Will A Shotgun Blast Cause Fleeing Swarms To Settle [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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05-08-2018, 11:24 AM
Someone asked:
<<An old man told me that his grandfather always carried a shotgun and when he saw a swarm leave the hive he would fire into the air and that would cause them to settle on the ground or somewhere low is there anything to that?>>

It was popular beekeeping belief in those days that you could make a swarm settle if the bees thought rain or a storm was coming. .... If bee-keeper thinks that the bees are going to swarm, he can generally send it back into the hive, by gently sprinkling the cluster of bees as they hang out of the hive, with water from a small watering-pot. The same means have been adopted to make the swarm alight where it was wanted, but as water cannot always be thrown high enough to reach a swarm on the wing, sand, dirt, small pebbles thrown into the flying swarm have also been found sufficient for the purpose, and the bees, mistaking it for rain, come down at once and settle in some sheltered place. Some bee-keepers recommend firing a gun, which the bees may possibly mistake for thunder. But as some beekeepers misinterpret proper method for how to use a gun to check the flight of fleeing swarms, there are accounts of shotguns being fired directly into a swarm which is never a good idea.

circa. 1862 Bees: their habits, management and treatment
John George Wood -page 44

Michael Bush
05-09-2018, 05:39 PM
"The custom of beating kettles and caldrons has been practiced at all times and I believe everywhere, and I do not understand any better than you do what influence it could have.
(Translators [C.P. Dadant] Note: Aristotle, who lived over 2200 years ago, tells, in his “Story of Animals,'' Lib. IX: “Bees seem to have a liking for noise and from this observation it is claimed that, by making a noise and striking upon earthen jars, one can gather the swarm in the hive. However, whether they hear or not, we do not know whether it is pleasure or fear which induces them to gather together when there is a noise.”)
The bees which are hived in glass hives do not seem to take any notice of thunder. I have caused the beating of drums about my apiary and, although I used, to make a noise, all the cauldrons, The watering-pots and the bells, that has never succeeded in stopping a flying swarm for me; one succeeds a great deal better in this by throwing at them water or dirt. This prejudice has perhaps been established for the benefit of bee owners, who, knowing through this noise that a swarm is out, soon ascertain whether it has escaped from their apiary and may claim it; I have seen that reason in Oliver De Serres' or in some other agricultural book."--Unedited Letters of Huber from Huber's New Observations on Bees, Bicentennial Edition pg 532