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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Plainfield, NJ
    Posts
    46

    Default Problem with Captured Swarm

    Hi all,
    I am heartbroken. I went out for a swarm call today and all started well. It landed about 10 foot up and was a HUGE number of bees. After about 30 minutes, I collected about 3/4 of the bees in a Home Depot 5 gallon pail; it was close to half the pail in volume. covered it tightly and headed home.

    About 35 minutes later, I was home, suit on, hive ready and when I opened up the pail, 90% of them were dead, the other 10% not doing well. I will see what tomorrow brings but I am not too hopeful.

    What went wrong? Why dead? Could it be lack of oxygen or just too many bees crushing one another from the of them? What should I do differently next time??

    Thanks for your support
    Chris in NJ

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I'd bet on suffocation. I've caught large swarms and crammed them into a five frame nuc before. Even during extreme heat, they seem to manage until I can get home. Plastic buckets are probably airtight, though...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I collected about 3/4 of the bees in a Home Depot 5 gallon pail... covered it tightly and headed home.
    Next time try putting them in a cardboard box with slits in it for ventilation. I'm with millerdrr, they probably suffocated.
    Try it. What could happen?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Rupert, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    You covered them tightly? With a regular bucket lid? Or.....
    If the bucket was really sealed, lack of oxygen certainly. Every living thing requires air to breath.
    Would suggest you join your local club, and try to find a mentor who you can work with, or who will allow you to tag along when they're working bees.
    You probably lost the queen, unless she's back there with the 25% you didn't get, in which case you really don't have anything left. Sorry for your anguish. Stick with it and someday you'll be able to laugh about this. I realize that's no consolation right now. It really won't take long till the fun outweighs the heart ache.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Plainfield, NJ
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Thanks all. I kind of knew it....a mistake that if I took my time I could have avoided.

    chris

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kaysville, Utah, USA
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I was sorry to read about what happened.

    To answer your question, I would guess a lack of O2 is what did it. The experienced beeks I know recommend a ventilated cardboard box for that reason.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Greene, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I know that had to be extremely disappointing. I try to adhere to the code that Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance; the 5 P's. Sometimes time does not allow for planning, but when it does, we should plan.

    Find a mentor, as previously suggested, as there is great wisdom in experience. Others before you have already made silly errors, and they have learned from them. No need to suffer the same calamities.

    Then, find or build the right equipment in order to preserve your next swarm. It is surely disappointing when things don’t work out, but when you are prepared, and everything goes smoothly, there is great reward. Hang in there. Someday you’ll be teaching others.
    No one famous.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Rupert, Idaho
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I feel for you and your loss. It is hard when you go to the work and it don't work out. I am with Bee Whisperer but I call it the 6 P's, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Use a nuc box or a regular hive. I just caught my first swarm here in Rupert, Idaho today May 4th. I had just finish making two nucs and was putting the cover on when the phone rang and the Sheriff's Office said they had a swarm on a swing set and it was all over it. When I arrived with my wife who is a great helper I found a huge swarm that weighed approximately 7 lbs when I was all done. Took about 20 minutes as it was only 3 feet off the ground. Place it right in a 10 frame deep with a screened bottom board and headed home. Once home place in some drawn comb and foundation for them to build on and added a frame of brood and gave them sugar syrup. Hope I did enough to keep them around. Keep trying and it is very rewarding when it works. Good luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Amarillo, TX
    Posts
    382

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I agree with Luv2, I put swarms in a hive with frames, drawn if I have them but some with only foundation or blank frames with a starter since swarms are predisposed to start new comb asap. Often I'll put a queen excluder on the bottom for a week to make sure the queen stays put. After putting the bees in the hive, I duct tape the screened bottom board to the box so it won't bee sliding around, duct tape the top on, put steel wool in the front opening and usually take it to my back yard for observation for the first couple of weeks. Usually feed them, or at least offer sugar water just to make it easier for them in the beginning. After they get settled in I make them fend for themselves. Then I take it to its final bee yard destination.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,410

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Its a lesson learned for sure. You can catch a swarm in a 5 gallon bucket all day long, but they have to have ventilation, they can not only suffocate but they also generate a lot of heat. If you want to use a bucket to catch swarms, cut a 9" diameter circle out of the lid and glue in a piece of window screen, walla, a ventilated swarm bucket. Or the really easy way, go to home depot and buy a 5 gallon bucket paint strainer, they are cheap. Shake the swarm in the bucket and then cover with the strainer which is like putting panty hose on a bucket, its bee tight and provides plenty of ventilation.

    My swarm catchers are 10 frame plywood boxes with a 1 1/2" entrance hole drilled into it. I shake the swarm into it and set it either on the ground or a ladder and the rest of the bees make their way into it provided I get the queen. When I get most of the bees I put a piece of 1/8" hardware cloth over the entrance, using thumb tacks to hold it in place and then head straight to the bee yard. Once there I put in a frame of larva/eggs from another hive to not only lock them down, but for them to build queen cells if something happened to the queen in transport. About a week later I transfer them from the swarm box to a regular 10 frame deep and let them grow!

    Don't beat yourself up about it though, there will be more swarms and you will be prepared next time!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Ventilation is importent but it's not suffocation. Concentrated bees build up metabolic heat and cook in their own body heat. You have evidence of that. Some lived through it.
    (Top of the pile)
    We tend to think in terms of human 02 requirements. 3 minutes and we're blacked out. Evidence suggests that's not the case with our bees.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,034

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    I agree with Walt, it was heat build up more than any lack of 02.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Lexington, S.C.
    Posts
    66

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Chris,
    Sounds like given the number of bees you say were in the pail, most of them died from heat build up. Some small holes punched in the lid would have helped. Sorry......Blessings,

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,355

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    We have done 2 different tests of bees in a pure nitrogen atmosphere. In both cases the bees lived overnight (6 PM to 9 AM). Makes me think suffocation would be rare.

    Set a trap here, and nobody jumped in it. Drat!!
    Walt

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by wcubed View Post
    We have done 2 different tests of bees in a pure nitrogen atmosphere. In both cases the bees lived overnight (6 PM to 9 AM). Makes me think suffocation would be rare.

    Set a trap here, and nobody jumped in it. Drat!!
    Walt
    I was about to bite, but I decided to research it first...I gave up after going blind with boredom reading insect biology web pages all night.

    It just seems strange, how bees can handle heat in a cramped wood box sealed shut, but not a plastic box. I wouldn't think the insulation factor of wood versus plastic would be that big of a deal in the short term, but I guess it does...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    That's an interesting thought. Did the 5 frame nuc have actual frames in it? I'm just thinking surface area. The bees in a 5 frame nuc have the surface of all the combs to spread out...even if just on foundation. In a bucket they're just piled in on top of one another.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Problem with Captured Swarm

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    That's an interesting thought. Did the 5 frame nuc have actual frames in it? I'm just thinking surface area. The bees in a 5 frame nuc have the surface of all the combs to spread out...even if just on foundation. In a bucket they're just piled in on top of one another.
    Hmmm...you might've solved my confusion for me, there. Yeah, every swarm I've ever caught has went into a box with at least a couple frames.

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