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View Full Version : What is the best way to catch a swarm?



Claressa
01-27-2010, 10:00 PM
Pardon me if this thread has been initiated before, but what is your preferred method for capturing a swarm? Where is the best location from which to retrieve them? How do you get them in the hive? I'm looking for your easiest retrieval here.

My situation is that I have one overwintered hive (fingers crossed!!!), which I may be able to split in March and have ordered a package. I have enough equipment for four hives, so I was thinking of attempting to catch a swarm or two. I am the resident "Bee Lady" at work (10,000+ employees) so I'm pretty sure I would be inundated if I offered to remove offending swarms in the suburbs this spring. It is quite likely I will have the opportunity to be choosy. So, please, give me your best possible scenario.

Please, also take into consideration that I am five-foot-nothing and extremely clumsy. :p

Thanks!

Hambone
01-27-2010, 10:36 PM
Swarm Trap:

Use a standard hive or nuc setup. Place 1-3 frames of drawn comb in there (the darker the better) Fill the rest with undrawn frames, foundation, (less), plastic, whatever you use. Place at ground level or no higher than you can reach and handle comfortably. Put a few drops of lemmon grass oil at the entrance, on top of a frame, in the comb and on the bottom board. Using about 7-8 drops total. Reapply drop every 3-4 weeks. Set the trap up a couple-few hundred yards away from your hive. Or at another location if you have one.

One of the first swarms I caught was in my backyard. My bees are 10 miles or so away from me. So these where not my bees. Anyway, over the summer I saw a lot of bees in my garden and working the flowers. So I know there is a colony somewhere. There is a huge park an pasture land behind my house and I live in the city in a neighborhood. So I know they are in that mess somewhere. I put out a feeder last Nov and had hundred's off bees at it. I put a trap up early April in my backyard. Next day I went to pick up some nucs I bought about 2 hours south of me. Came home early that evening and went an looked at the trap. A swarm had moved in! I just put up the trap the night before. I was fired up!!

All that being said. You can catch them anywhere. If you have some locations...Friends, Family, Work...put out some 1:1 with a drop of lemmon grass oil or spearmint oil on top of the feeder. If a few hours later you have a ton of bees there. Set up a trap in that location. The hive is close by.

Claressa
01-27-2010, 11:09 PM
Perhaps I should also add that I am only an egg - a second year keeper. I am skeptical that I will ever have 'spare frames of bood'. I'm coming around as I read how quickly am overwintered hive can build up. Just tying to cover my bases.

devdog108
01-28-2010, 04:50 AM
Hey Cl,

Make some noise about you wnating to catch swarms. I am too and am also teaching a class at some of the Newton County Schools. I figure between you, Me and Mike in Loganville and BizzyBee in Loganville, we should spread the news pretty good. About Feb 1st, I will get with you and Mike and we can put your names on my list thats going home to the parents......Far as frames are concerened. Id take 1 or 2 and swap them out and put them in one of your meduims a a swarm trap. then just add the lemongrass oil. The bees SHOULD build up those 2 frames pretty quickly that you just put into your hive once the flow starts!

Joseph Clemens
01-28-2010, 05:05 AM
I agree with Hambone, with one exception, this year I'm going to put all my old 10-frame boxes to use as swarm catchers, and the exception is I'm going to make sure I put them in a shady spot, the ones I put in sunny locations last season didn't work, all those combs melted down inside the supers.

I'm in a semi-rural location, with single acres lots or even multiples of acres. I recently discovered that my best source of swarms, that had been coming to live in my swarm traps had been a massive feral colony that was living beneath an old mobile home on my neighbors property, just to the Northwest of ours. They had the bees and mobile home hauled away about a year ago, now I don't get half as many free swarms as I once did. Around here neighbors with yards full of "junk" can be an excellent source of swarms.

Omie
01-28-2010, 05:23 AM
I am skeptical that I will ever have 'spare frames of bood'.

Take 3 frames of foundation with some comb wax on it from your other dead hive to use in a swarm trap, and fill in the empty spots around either side of them with empty frames with foundation on them.
I got my lemongrass essential oil (food grade, not merely fragrance type) at my local health food store..

This is what I'm doing too this Spring, to try to lure in a roving swarm from somewhere.

Brenda
01-28-2010, 06:34 AM
I was able to lure a swarm last year by putting out a 10 frame medium, on the ground, with 2 frames of old comb, 6 frames of empty foundation, and 2 frames of capped honey. I also put a bit of swarm lure at the entrance, but not sure I would have needed it. The bees were checking it out before I took it out of the truck or added the lure.
I've since read that adding honey frames may cause robbing, but I didn't have that problem. They moved right in.

This year I plan to sit out another lure hive (but no honey frames) and hope to catch a swarm off my own hive.

dickm
01-28-2010, 12:43 PM
List your name with local Police, and fire depts. Also exterminators.

Good luck

dickm

franktrujillo
01-28-2010, 02:57 PM
when it lands!:lpf:

KQ6AR
01-28-2010, 06:28 PM
My wife & I are new beekeepers. Last summer a neighbor from around the corner knocked on the door, about a swarm in his back yard. We put a nook box, a lopper, & our beesuits in the wheelbarrow, & pusher it to his house.

The plant the bees where hanging on was 4' tall. Opened the nuc box, removed a few plastic foundation frames, cut the branch with the lopper, & gave it a good shake over the box. Most of the bees fell into the box. We put the other plastic frames in, & put the lid back on.

Within an hour all the bees where in the nuc. screened the entrance, loaded it in the wheelbarrow, & pushed it home.

Totally easy first swarm catch, & a lot of fun.
I screw the bottom boards & lids on my nuc boxes, for easy transportation.

yblocker
01-28-2010, 06:52 PM
Hey Brenda-

I may try the same thing- luring my own swarm. Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?

Yblocker

Hambone
01-28-2010, 09:49 PM
I'm going to make sure I put them in a shady spot, the ones I put in sunny locations last season didn't work, all those combs melted down inside the supers.

When is you're swarm season? Main one. I can understand your heat and melting. Our main swarm trap season is April and May thru June with good conditions. It's gets hot at times in those months but not to bad. Not enough to worry about melting. July and August...thats another story...

Joseph Clemens
01-28-2010, 10:46 PM
Around here, most swarming depends on the weather, more than anything else. If we get rain, wildflowers bloom and the bees get nectar and pollen, build up then swarm. I've seen swarms almost any month of the year, the one that was most unexpected was when some came in January, but not from my own bees. For some reason, I'm hoping it's my management, very few swarms issue from my own hives.

Our main swarm season is May, June, and July, soon after the beginning of the Mesquite honey flow, which starts in April.
--------

yblocker,
I just place the swarm traps where they are convenient for me, that seems to be good enough to work.

Michael Bush
01-28-2010, 11:29 PM
I used to climb up ladders etc. to get them. After one went down my shirt 20 feet up and I'm trying to stay calm enough not to fall while climbing down, I decided no swarm was worth that. So I bought the Hipps Swarm retriever from Brushy Mt. I used that for a while, but now, I just take two well used (now smelling like bees) medium eight frame boxes (a good voume), a lid, a bottom board some old combs if I have them and fill the rest out with some foundationless (to give them a place to cluster) and a q tip with one end dipped in lemongrass essential oil and the other in queen juice (old queens in alcohol) and drop that in. If I didn't have the queen juice I'd buy some "bee boost" pheromone. The bees just move into the box. After dark I close them up and take them home.

Brenda
01-29-2010, 04:52 AM
Hey Brenda-

I may try the same thing- luring my own swarm. Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?

Yblocker

I don't know. Maybe someone else will chime in on that question.
I did put another lure hive a couple feet from the first and got nothing in it.
This spring I plan to put one out 200 or 300 feet away and see what happens.

c10250
01-29-2010, 06:58 AM
How do you keep wax moths at bay? Wouldn't the unprotected frames be eaten by moths?

brooksbeefarm
01-29-2010, 07:46 AM
c10250, i usually wait until the swarm season starts,then place my old 10 frame hives with one or two drawn comb frames and the rest foundation in a tree about 8 to 10ft. high (i have platforms built to set hives on). I then put a few drops of lemongrass oil on the drawn comb and entrance. Caught 10 for 10 last year:thumbsup:, i tried 5 frame nuc boxes but soon found they were to small for most of the swarms. If you put your swarm catch hives out to early,you may have moth problems. Good luck. Jack

c10250
01-29-2010, 08:36 AM
Anyone from N. Illinois know when the best time is to set traps? I'm thinking mid June. (sorry for the hijack)

Bodhi
01-29-2010, 09:34 AM
Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?


That's my question, too.

I have a top bar hive I want to use this year, and would like to use it as a swarm trap. Would I have any luck putting it in my own beeyard? Maybe not to catch a swarm from my hives, but there are ~20 colonies (that I'm aware of) with in a mile or two of me and a few ferral colonies in trees as well. Will other bees move into my bee yard?

I could ask the neighbors permission and put some traps on his land, but then I'd be moving bees more than 2' and less than 2 miles, and the TBH would be tough to move.

Brenda
01-29-2010, 09:54 AM
I'm close to St. Louis, and I set mine out in early June. Like I said, they moved right in.

Velbert
01-29-2010, 10:44 AM
Place an old dark comb in and make sure there is no Pollen Packed in the comb wax moths like the pollen packed combs a lot better

c10250
01-29-2010, 02:04 PM
How about terrain? I have woods, to open fields, to rooftops. The easiest place to put it would be in the woods. I can also put it in the sun on top of my shed.

Buffalolick
01-30-2010, 07:02 AM
Hi Claressa! I too am very interested in catching swarms this season and would be willing to help you. If I have them to spare and you hive a swarm, I could loan you a frame of brood. I think that if we put together a little network with Dev, and any other local beeks we should be able to cover any possibilities in the DeKalb, Gwinnett, Walton, Rockdale, Newton areas..as I am sure that swarms will not happen according to everyone's schedule. Between work, and carring kids to Scouts, Band, practice, etc. I foresee having to pass on a call or two, but if we had a network, someone else could go catch them. At any rate, I'm game...let's catch some bees!

BTW...anyone like to share their favorite source for lemongrass oil?

Michael Bush
01-30-2010, 07:36 AM
>Anyone from N. Illinois know when the best time is to set traps? I'm thinking mid June.

I'd start in mid May.

>anyone like to share their favorite source for lemongrass oil?

I got mine online, a long time ago. Don't remember the place, but it wasn't difficult to find it.

rkr
01-30-2010, 10:32 AM
>anyone like to share their favorite source for lemongrass oil?

I got mine online, a long time ago. Don't remember the place, but it wasn't difficult to find it.
I found my LGO at the local natural food store. I think it was 5-6 bucks.

RKR

Omie
01-30-2010, 12:56 PM
Me too, I got my pure lemongrass essential oil at my local natural foods store.
$6.50 for a half ounce bottle, but that should last for years if you only use maybe 60 drops per year or so.

devdog108
01-30-2010, 02:26 PM
Hey Buff, we have a local place in Covington, about 6.50 ish. Its behind the Chick-Fil-A off of HWY278 in that plaza.....

Claressa
01-30-2010, 09:17 PM
Okay all you DeKalb, Co GA folks. Send me a PM and I'll coordinate a get-together so we can get us some swarms this year. Yay!