I'm going to challenge myself this up and coming year. Not including queen purchases, I'm going to shoot for 100 swarms through trap-outs , cutouts , swarm catches and splits. I may start a blog about it too. Can it be done? we will see.
I caught 40 baits and five swarms in 2009, but I am in prime territory. That was only part time with little effort. If I had advertised for swarms 100 catches would have been no problem. About 20% of the baits I caught were no good in the long run.
I didn't bait at all but i am the main swarm catcher in my valley. However some had to be eradicated. I didn't put my full potential into cut outs , traps , or swarm catches . I've read a lot , learned a lot , and experienced a lot since and feel i'm ready to tackle a big amount. 100 doesn't seem to huge to me either . It seems attainable.
I had 3 trap outs, 3 cutouts, at least 15 swarms, and 4 splits. I still have around 12 or so of those colonies. Checked today and found another dead colony (not one of the 12). Don't know how many will make it through the winter.
I was really busy with just those and working some part time. Have to build boxes, put frames together, contantly checking on the new colonies, fighting off SHBs, getting the queens to live, recatching swarms that abosconed 3 or 4 times nearby only to finally die.
I wish you well, but I don't think you realize what you are up against. Trapout take 2 to 3 months. You travel 30 or more miles one way and the second trip you go to cut the tree down to find that only 100 bees left in the hive. That's a lot of time.
There were times when I didn't know what I was going to do next worrying about making boxes and hoping I had enough frames. Especially, if you are like me and do not have any large amount of comb frames.
Even with what I got, there were days when I would get 2 or 3 calls. Some while on another call. Many times the swarms were 30 - 40 miles apart. It takes a lot of time. Especially if you trap a swarm the have to go back later in the day or late evening to pick up the entire swarm.
My next door neighbor described a swarm from my first hive with amazement while I enjoyed a chagrin. The next week they did it again and I had enough. They were 15+ feet up in a tree. I drove the Astro down between the houses into the back yard, put a 6' step ladder on top and shook them into a box for hive No. 2. I add some nonsense and it makes for a good story at social events.
I used the same the next year and climbed trees since.
Last week I caught Mike Bush's reference to using a 5 gal bucket on a paint stick and have the stuff set aside when time is free to assemble.
Make you a large scoop to use to scoop up swarms that are in bushes. I made one from a gallon milk jug with the handle being the handle for the scoop. Beats picking them up by the handfuls. Sometimes you can scoop up under them in the bush and shake the scoop the get more of the bees and hopefully the queen.
If the limb is not huge and I can still reach the limb with looping shears, I setup a box on the ground as close as I can to where I hope the bees will land and cut the limb. Climb down the ladder, grab the limb and shake it in the box real hard to get the queen or scoop them up.
Note: If the bees are on the ground, after getting most of the in the box, look around for a while. If you see a group of bees all together, even if it's just 20, carefully get the bees and look for the queen. You may have to carefully pull away blades of grass as many times she will be running.
If you're counting splits too, then it could be very easy or very difficult, depending upon how many hives you have to start with. If you're starting with 1000 hives, then 100 splits doesn't impress me much. If you're starting with 0, then even 50 splits would be impressive.
The number of swarms in your area will vary a lot, mostly dependant upon how good a year 2009 was for the bees in your area.
I love beekeepers with VISION and PASSION! Don't you just love the adventure?
I'm with USCBeeMan who brings up some relavent points. For me, it seems I'm in the middle of working MY bees and the swarm calls come. My bees are like the cobbler's children who go barefoot. The urgency of the swarm call often takes priority, sadly.
My goal is like yours, to trap and retrieve swarm calls, but this year I am making a stronger resolve to organize my own hives so they don't suffer the indignities of a distracted beekeeper.
I wrote two manuals on swarm retrieval and swarm trapping. PM me for the details.
I was wondering the same thing when I saw the post. I sold some and did some work with others, so right now I have 49 hives still in my yard. Only had 3 in Feb, so I think going off my numbers and that he had to goal and the means, unlike me, I've had to turn away business, I think he can do it. The guy I learned from down in Lodi makes splits to sell hives. In 2009, he overwintered 6 hives and 1 weak one. By the fall he had over 50+. So basically every hive was split 7 times just to get to 49.
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