I am starting to think that there is a high loss of queens that are vacuumed. I don't see a lot of bees being killed, but seem to end up with too many queenless hives. With swarms, I attempt to shake the bulk of the bees to begin with if possible, and only vacuum the leftovers. So many swarms are completely tangled in bushes and have to be totally vacuumed. Any other vacuumers have an opinion ?
I think vacuming always injures a lot of bees. Some will last a while and some die quickly. No matter how careful you are it's just a trumatic ride down the tube. I think it might help if you use a smooth tube so they don't get banged around as much on the way down the tube. Also something to cushion their fall. Also if you quickly vacumn up a bunch of bees and turn off the vacum and cap the end it seems to injure less than if you leave the vacumn on for a long period of time. I think it would be very hard on a queen as her abdomen is much more fragile than a worker.
I guess I should also say I've NEVER vacumed a swarm. I've only used the vacumn when removing bees from existing feral hives.
I've never had to vacume a swarm either. The trick to prevent stragglers from returning to the swarm location is to remove the scent/phermone either by removing the branch or masking it. Removing the branch works well even when the swarm is tangled in many small branches as typically only one is the main branch. As for masking the scent some have suggested soapy water, but I haven't had a need to try it yet.
After ripping the siding off the corner of my house last year, I still could not get the queen from between the studs in the wall. After thinking twice I caught the swarm, realized the queen was to far back and the bees kept going back in. Got the handy shop-vac out and when I was done I had a pile of mush. My only experience. (I realize it was the wrong vac your talking about.)
Even if it takes hours, and it has, I will use hedge shears and pruning clippers to cut my way into the swarm. Did that in a honeysuckle bush this morning. About 8 foot.
I have used my vac twice in the last week. Once to remove the feral hive from a chicken coop floor and today for a tree company who wanted a tree filled in with expanding foam.
It seems that the owners, who live in a swank neighborhood, are going to have a reception in their yard in a couple of weeks and did not want any honeybees at the party.
The tree company wanted me to fill in the tree, and I wanted to try to salvage what ever I could. So I took my vac over and sucked out all that I could and the returning ones as well.
Last week in the coop I used the six foot smooth bore hose and had almost no casualties. The suction was a bit light so I put some duct tape on the cage box and the suction picked up quite a bit. It really pulled them little suckers out. But a six foot hose in a tree ten feet up was not going to work well, so I improvised. Grabing my twenty-five foot pool cleaning hose, not a smooth bore, we had much safer accesibility to the bees.
Well all said and done with, I came home with about three pounds of orphans, two pounds were still alive. They are now getting used to the girls in the back yard and will enjoy not being stuck inside a tree filled with expanding foam (glue).
As for useing it on a swarm, I never have. What works well for me is to either cut the branch off and put it in the box, or knock them off into the box, cover the box, and let it set there while they fan her scent to the others to come inside.
Sometimes I will let the box set there until dark and then go back and retrieve it. It just depends how quickly they decide to go inside.