Beekeeping – Swarm Collecting

Early in the spring of 2015 I watched as one of my hives swarmed and a good portion of the hive flew off with the queen. Now I wasn’t going to let a fresh swarm go to waste so I grabbed my small wooden nuc box and headed over to where the bees had landed.

swarm of bees

The bees had clumped up into the bushes in my neighbor’s back yard. After I received permission I went to investigate. I was lucky that the swarm basically clumped up at ground level. Swarms will sometimes form a clump in all kinds of places, including high up in trees or buildings.

This is the second swarm I’ve been able to capture, and with the bees so low I simply opened the top of my nuc box and then shook a good portion of the bees into the top of the box. I snagged the queen the first try.

How do you know the queen is in the box or container you’ve shaken the bees into? You’ll notice that instead of immediately leaving the rest of the bees start to march into the box.

Beekeeping Tip: If you’ve already collected your swarm and want to transfer them to your hive boxes, place a light colored sheet on the ground with the hive on top. Shake the bees gently on to the sheet. The scouts for the hive will see the dark entrance of the hive and will investigate. To make them even more interested place a couple of old frames from another hive into the box. It’ll make it smell like home.

swarm of bees entering nuc box

You can see in the photo above the bees starting their march into the nuc box. Another thing you’ll notice is several bees turning around and sticking their hind ends up in the air while fanning their wings like crazy. What the girls are doing is pushing out the pheromones the queen is emitting to let the rest of the colony know where home now resides.

Bees fanning at entrance to a nuc

It may take awhile for all the bees to march in. Just be patient, they’ll get there eventually. Once the bees are in your nuc box you can set them near your other hives. Even if the bees swarmed from one of your hives they’ll know which one they now belong in.

 

Honeybees bearding on the edge of a nuc box   Small bee nuc box between larger hives

You may also notice some of the bees clustering or “bearding” up near the entrance. That normally isn’t an issue and is just the girls settling into their new surroundings.

Enjoy your new hive!

– Jason Snell

 

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