"ABC.." says that 20% of swarms in the Ithaca, NY area occur between 8/15 and 9/15, with as many as four afterswarms--so my late swarms aren't that unusual. In the past ten days, I have had at least four swarms or afterswarms. I haven't seen them leave the hive, so I don't know which of my four hives they're from. The present one is horizontal, in an appox 8 inch diameter limb of a split cherry tree. I tried to hive it yesterday, but all the bees returned to the swarm. I guess the qeen was in a hole in the tree limb. The swarm has been there for 3 days, and survived a pretty intense thunderstorm last night. I may cut the limb free, but I'll need to use a chainsaw.
No one ever told about this part of beekeeping!
>I tried to hive it yesterday, but all the bees returned to the swarm. I guess the qeen was in a hole in the tree limb.
Sometimes they go back because you didn't get the queen, But sometimes they go back because the pheromones work both ways. The Nasonov pheromone that the cluster gives off attracts, not only the other workers, but the queen. The Queen Mandibular Pheromone given off by the queen attracts the workers. Sometimes its because there is enough Nasonov pheromone and enough QMP on the limb to attract the bees back to the limb even though you got the queen and the bees. If you don't want to cut the limb, maybe you should try cleaning the limb with ammonia or vinegar or something that would react to remove the smell. I just keep hiving them until they give up and it usually works eventually. Check them a hour after you've hived them and see if they are drifing back to the limb. Since I usually put the box under the cluster, I just keep brushing them or shaking them off into the box when they start to accumulate. If you can FIND the queen then put a queen excluder on the bottom board so she can't get back out. If you can't find her, I wouldn't because the bees in the box may attract her to the box.
On the other hand I've noticed swarms seem to land the same place time and again and if it's a good place I like to encourage it by NOT cleaning off the limb.
Thanks so much, Michael, for the very helpful information. Although I own (and refer to) about 10 bee books, you always have more information than the other authorities!
All my brood chambers are in use, and I only have a shallow honey super available with bottom board, etc. Can I use this to capture the swarm?
Sure. You can capture a swarm in a cardboard box if it's sealed up pretty well with an entrance. As long as the rain doesn't do it in before you transfer them to something else.
I would catch them in anything you've got. A hive in a shallow is better than not having the bees at all.