Option B – Catch a SwarmMay 25, 2010
Remember what I said about ways to expand your apiary? A. You can split a strong colony and put some bees and some frames of brood and honey in another hive box and let them grow a queen. B. You can catch a swarm and put them in an empty hive box. C. You can do a cut-out, which is taking bees that have established a hive in a place people don’t want one, such as in the wall of their house. D. You can buy more bees and woodware. Or E. you can win a hive with bees from your local beekeepers association.
My friend Scott the farmer gave me a call this morning about bees on a tree branch. I forced myself to take my time, eat some breakfast, and gather all I’d need before hopping in the car to go see the swarm. And it was a good size swarm too! It was 18” to 2 feet long, probably 12 inches around at the widest spot and probably 5 or 6 pounds.
I had a box and Scott got some lopping shears (note to self – next time bring the lopping shears). Scott, my able, though tentative assistant, trimmed the branch a bit and then when I had the box around the swarm he clipped the branch. It was textbook perfect. The bees dropped into the box – barely a handful flew around (at first – then some got curious). I cut a little flap of an entrance in the corner, put some boards on the top and left to set up their home.
Below they are actually marching (as much as bees march) from the box to the hive because the queen is in the hive (I dumped the vast majority into the hive but some seemed inordinately fond of the box).
Will they stay? I don’t know. Their quarters are not ideal and this afternoon we have had torrential rains. That may just be too much for them to stand in their little shack and they’ll swarm again. I’ll check later. Meanwhile, even if this swarm doesn’t stay I need more equipment.
The other questions is where did they come from? I hope they are a feral swarm, but they could be a swarm from my own hives (although both established hives looked quite populous today). I could look for queen cells in which a hive will grow their own queen. Actually they’ll grow many queens in numerous queen cells – the first one out stings all the other queens before they emerge – or if two emerge at the same time they’ll fight to the death. Not very lady-like behavior. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll bother looking unless I think there’s a problem.
At least at this moment, I’m a four hive beekeeper. Wow, that wasn’t in my immediate plans.