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  • Collecting a Swarm

  • General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #4030  by Japey Edge
 11 Jul 2019, 18:24
Received a message today saying there's a swarm nearby and I'm going to collect tonight around 9pm.

So with all the Dirt Rooster and JP Beeman videos I watched I guess I just go down in jeans and a T shirt and pick them up with bare hands? :roll:

Jokes! I'm taking everything I can think of and more:
Nuc box with lid and roof, stuffing for the entrance. 6 frames foundation
Appropriate clothing
Plenty of nitriles
Smoker plus fuel
Queen clip, Queen marking cage, butler cage (anything queeny)
Bee brush

Do I need some feed ready for them when they get home?
Anything else?
 #4031  by Patrick
 11 Jul 2019, 20:13
Do you know where the swarm is? Assuming it is hanging from the classical branch, then a Sheet for under the receptacle you are shaking or brushing the bees into to catch the bees that miss the box.

I also like a hand plant sprayer with some water in it. A few spritzes on the swarm cluster before brushing or knocking them into the container cools them down and tightens the cluster reducing the chance they just break up.

Jazz - only other thing - if you need to take a personal risk to collect them (too high up a tree / inaccessible location/ they will land all over you - whatever) just walk away. It’s too easy to get drawn into it and do stupid things up borrowed ladders one handed and stretching. Keep safe mate.
 #4032  by Chrisbarlow
 11 Jul 2019, 20:14
Don't clip the queen.

Up to you if you wanna mark her , most people wait till she's started laying. This time if year, most likely a caste.

I would give it a couple of days till you feed it.bpeople talk about letting the swarm empty their stomachs of stores into wax.
 #4035  by Japey Edge
 11 Jul 2019, 22:08
Thanks for the replies guys.
I've picked them up, should I keep them locked up for a few days?
 #4036  by Caroline
 11 Jul 2019, 22:34
Don't shut the swarm in. Place them where you want them and leave the entrance open.

Swarms can 'move on' if they don't like the home you've provided for them, so a queen excluder between the floor and brood box is a commonly used; the colony won't leave the queen, and the queen won't usually get through the excluder.

Remove the Q/ex after a few days.

As has already been mentioned, don't feed for at least 48hrs.
 #4037  by Japey Edge
 12 Jul 2019, 08:59
Good morning everyone,

Thank you for all the replies. I have some pics and a video from the swarm collection yesterday:



Video -!Av81dIXQWFUjn113VTO9XQzqv43Q?e=ce7ZPe

Overall it went pretty well. Cardboard box on floor, nuc on cardboard box, lift trampoline, drop. (Nigel, does anything look familiar? :lol: )

I did not find the queen. They're currently set up in my "spare" Abelo poly hive. QE under BB. I suppose I may now have a use for my mini mating hive queen.

When I got home, I was going to leave them in with the entrance open, as I have no queen excluders for that nuc. However, they managed to get out of the duct tape on the crown board so when I lifted the roof they were all over the top. They were simply too big for that box. It was late, I made a call and stuck to it - I made the transfer to the poly hive. I had to spray them a little as mentioned earlier - in order to get them to clump. These bees have very good grip though!
Unfortunately they didn't like being man-handled twice, I appreciate that too. I got them set up as fast as I could, and scooped as many into the box as possible. Then I gave them two lengths of wood as ramps from the box to the grass. As you'll notice the hive is on a narrow stand, which was intended for the nuc.
My purpose-made stand will be ready soon, when I can get some base jacks for legs. Then it all will look a lot better than this makeshift stuff I have going on :lol:


Shame I hadn't the time to finish my paint job! :cry:
 #4043  by AdamD
 12 Jul 2019, 14:29
Your stand looks good to me!

A swarm will draw foundation well, so feed them (after a couple of days) and they should give you a box of good drawn comb in a week or two. If the queen is already mated, she should be laying after 2 or 3 days. If not, then the queen excluder needs to be off so she can mate, of course.
I have a cardboard box with a rectangle of queen excluder fixed to one side. I 'dump' the bees in the box by shaking the branch or whatever and tape it up and put it close to where the swarm had congergated. Provided the queen is in the box, you'll see bees fanning around the 'excluder after a few minutes to draw the other bees in. If she is not in the box, they will start to make an exit back to the swarm spot and you need to repeat in order to get the queen in. Leave 'till dusk and then pick them up.

If you can't 'dump' them in a box because you can't get underneath them, then you may be able to put a box over them and provided they can walk without interruption, they will walk upwards into the receptacle. (Smoke helps a little here to drive them up).

Swarms are generally gentle and their true temperament does not seem to exhibit itself until after a couple of weeks. I have a swarm collected this year which had a red marked queen that has been removed. The colony now has a just-emerged virgin in from a breeder queen of mine.
 #4044  by Japey Edge
 12 Jul 2019, 14:33
Cheers Adam that's great!

What are the next steps then? I will keep away from feeding them for a little bit. When can I check on them next? I am planning inspections for tomorrow for the rest of the apiary - can I open these up then or is that too soon and potentially unsettling them?

I only gave them foundation - will they really have made enough comb for the queen to lay in, in only 2-3 days?

These were calm when I collected them, but not so much at 11pm when I was moving them into the poly hive. Don't fancy that again...
 #4045  by Japey Edge
 12 Jul 2019, 16:32
Just another thing - they've been really active all day, loads flying about constantly from this morning to even now - half 4. Should I be concerned?

My other colonies are pretty chilled out and not much activity - which I would expect considering it's been raining.
 #4048  by NigelP
 12 Jul 2019, 16:56
Could mean you left the queen behind.....just to put your mind at rest...LOL...
I would leave them for at least 2-3 days. Swarms can be very unsettled initially and many will move on.. from all the activity it sounds as though they may be intent on leaving, so hopefully that QX above the floor will hold them back.