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This morning I got a call from the Principal of a local Elementary School. He's a friend, but not someone from whom I usually get calls during business hours. He says he's got a swarm of bees on the ground at the school yard. I asked for pics to make sure they were bees, but the pictures I got back weren't good enough to tell. (I don't think he wanted to get too close.) He asked me to come out after school and take them away.

When I arrived, they were honey bees. They were clustered in a large row of grass trimmings on the ground. Because they were flat, I had trouble judging the size. After seeing them later, I'm going to guess softball sized. I had a large cardboard box, and situated it with a flap tucked under so the opening was about 3-4 inches off the ground. I then made a ramp of sorts with a queen excluder I haven't used in years, but still has a fair amount of propolis on it. I had a small bluegill net, and because the grass was so loose, I was able to get three decent clumps into the box. I obviously got the queen, as the parade immediately ensued up the ramp and into the box. I also collected more grass clipping than I would have liked, but no big problem.

I knew scouts would be coming and going, but for some reason in my mind I didn't expect nearly as many. After I thought I had most of the bees in the box, there were about a dozen new bees arriving each minute. There were also bees leaving the box. At first I thought they were just fanning the pheromone to indicate the new home location, but many were leaving and making orientation flights. It was difficult to tell how many we arriving versus leaving, so I taped up three of the four flaps to try to make it easier to look. I taped the fourth shut when I thought I had an equal number coming as going, but I feel like I left an opportunity on the table. Should I have been more patient?

Anyway so far, so good in my head. I began the eight mile trip home in my van. (I really wish I would have had a truck or a trunk available, but oh well.) About six miles into the return trip, I noticed a single bee on the back glass. No big deal, but now I'm watching. I saw a second with about a mile left to go, and a third with about 100 yards remaining. Though I pictured the worst, when I opened the back of the van I noticed they had found enough of a gap to wiggle through. Only one could fit at a time, and they couldn't do it quickly. Again, no problem for an 8 mile trip, but probably a different story had it been 50 miles.

I taped up the box in that spot, poke some holes for breathe-ability, and positioned the box under a previously arranged hive with a single small super. My plan was to start the movement a little before dusk to show the girls their new home. I went inside and checked on the (human) girls, to make sure the chores were done. I walked back out, and found a beard of bees clustered on the box. I went ahead and opened the boxes, and shook what I could into the hive. I then placed the cardboard box under the hive.

The bees did not want to stay in the hive. They would beard in as many as 3 difference places off the hive or back in the box, though I never found a queen. I spent over an hour trying to move the bees into the hive, but they did not seem interested. I finally put a piece of new, waxed foundation near the entrance, and it seem to collect hundreds of bees. I slid that in the top between frames. I don't know if I got the queen of just finally achieved critical mass, but from that point there were more bees entering the hive than leaving. I watched for another twenty minutes, and was satisfied that they were going to give their home a try, at least for one night. Of course I now have a loose piece of foundation in the hive, but I'll take a wayward comb problem instead of a no-bees-at-all problem.

So, while I certainly didn't look like an expert on a fairly easy process, I'm glad I have my first one under my belt. I know I need to execute a few things better. First, knowing when to pack up from the swarm site to maximize the quantity of bees I take home. Second, doing a better job to seal the container (or simply having a proper container ready at all times). This led to some issues that could have been worse. And finally, a better plan for getting the bees into the hive. Time of day worked against me a little due to #2, but I'm sure I could have made that process better.

So an August swarm isn't exactly a prize, but the experience was, even if the execution was highly amateurish.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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may as well get the first few done, you will get better.
When the big one lands you want to have a plan and know what to do.

I generally take the box with me, for that one a NUC would do. get them started wait till dusk then screen the entrance and take them home.

you did fine.
the size and the season may dictate they do not make the winter but for learning it was perfect.

GG
 

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i got my first ground swarm a couple weeks ago. i could not get them in the nuc, as soon as i would get some in to work on the rest, they flew right out. i could not find the queen as the grass was tall. i gave up for the night and went back the next day. they had moved about 20 ft but were still on the ground. the nuc had a couple frames of older drawn comb, i put a few drops of lemon grass oil in the hive, places a couple 2x4 boards on either side of the swarm and set the nuc directly over the swarm with no bottom on it. the next day all the bees were in the hive. i put them on one to one sugar syrup and half a pollen patty. i checked them yesterday, they have capped brood and uncapped larvae, so i know the queen is in there. i know its getting late in the year, but i had to try and save the girls.!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well. five days later and they're still around. I feel much better about they're chances of staying.
 

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Congrats, I also got my first swarm this May. Felt better when they stayed put like you said.
 
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