Spring Honeybee Swarms

What with all of the rain we have had this spring, ideal conditions are present for bees to swarm. They have been unable to fly for many days in a row while producing brood and feeling crowded so the next good sunny day they take off. Some seasons we are just not able to prevent it.  My interest in catching swarms has waned in recent years, but when I know it is one of my better queens I make an attempt to get the swarm back.

Here is how I approach the situation.

First is it worth the trouble?

Where did it land?

How high up did it land?

Is it a large, primary swarm, or a smaller swarm that may contain a virgin queen?

Does it contain a good queen whose genetic qualities are worth keeping?

Do I have time to tackle it?

Next, having made the decision to go for it, I gather the equipment I think I will need:  Ladder, pruner or saw, cardboard box, extra hive body with frames, solid bottom board, hive tops, ratchet ties, duct tape and something to close the entrance.

If we can get to the swarm from the ground, brushing the bees into a box is the simplest way to contain them. A cardboard box is lighter weight for carrying up and down a ladder as well.

I use a solid bottom for hiving swarms, so the stragglers can find the entrance quickly and not cling to the bottom of a screen bottom board. When dumping the bees into their new hive body, remove a few frames in the center and then replace those frames as the bees settle down.  Once you are able to ID the queen, you know the rest of the bees will make their way into the hive.

Large swarms in May, are good for drawing out new comb and it is an easy way to increase your hive numbers. Sometimes you may have to hive a swarm in an undesirable location but swarms can offer excitement and adventure.

Good Luck with the next one you encounter!

 

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