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Discussion Starter #1
Our mentor called us at 7 AM. "Hey, wanna come and help me collect a swarm?"

Well, why not. Haven't tried one yet, but with people describing a cluster of bees hanging on a branch that you plop into a box, it should be quick and simple, right?

Shucks, last week someone described a softball-sized cluster ... just snipped off the twig it was on and her friend drove her home holding the twig.

So we get there and there's this little Bradford Pear about 12 ft high, and starting about 6 ft up and running about 4 ft up from that is this thick mass of sleepy bees on the trunk. The mentor stares at this for a while, wishing they were on a branch instead, and noticing all the branches on this little ornamental tree, trying to figure out how to get them into a nuc box. We estimated 5 pounds of bees, easily the largest swarm he'd ever tried to catch.

An hour and a half later we had maybe 3/4 of them in a nuc box. Everything is sticky from syrup spray. There was still a pound or more stubbornly returning just above where we could reach with a brush. Shaking the tree got them flying but they went back to that spot. Could be the queen there? Can't tell.

We took what we could to his apiary and established them in a hive (they pretty much filled a 10-frame deep). We'll be back this afternoon with his bee vac to see if the rest have hung around.
 

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Bee vac is just the ticket for a swarm capture with this scenario. One other trick is to spray (lightly) the tree where the swarm was with bee quick after the "shake". The queen's scent is all over that area. The spray will not allow the bees to return, but make them find the real queens new location.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The details given on this swarm were a bit off. My friend was told this swarm was at shoulder-height, but in truth ran to about 10 ft. One look at it and he wished he'd brought his bee vac. He had also not brought a ladder since it was not supposed to be high.

The spot where they were congregating after a shake was 10 ft up. At one point he accidentially set his sprayer to "jet", and quickly discovered it could send a squirt of syrup up to the high cluster. So maybe you could do the same with Bee Quick? We were just trying to get them quiet so they could be brushed down.

Once the majority were in the nuc box, they set a crew to spraying pheromones, and we did start to get some "walk in business". But that top cluster was pretty stubborn, making us think the queen might be there. We put queen lure in the nuc box.
 

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I think most giant swarms are really multiple swarms that have combined with multiple queens.

When hiving them if you see any type division trying to happen, like two groups separating, I put them in multiple hives about 10' apart. If they really are only one hive they will merge back together on there own in one of the hives. But, if they are multiple swarms with multiple queens and you dump them in to the same hive, one or likely both swarms will abscond from your set up.


By the way, using a vacuum to catch swarms is the lowest form of skullduggery. Ranks right up there with pot shooting ducks, tv dinners, and the designated hitter. :lookout:


Don
 

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Discussion Starter #5
According to my uncle the fly fisherman, the lowest form of life on Earth is people who fish with worms.

Still, leaving a portion of that diminished swarm up in the tree seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
 

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According to my uncle the fly fisherman, the lowest form of life on Earth is people who fish with worms.

Still, leaving a portion of that diminished swarm up in the tree seems like cruel and unusual punishment.
Go back and have another crack at them, if they are queen-less they won't be concentrated together (or most likely many there), and left on there own will return to their parent colony. If on the other hand if there is a good size group tightly festooning they have another queen and can be caught and hived separate from the group you caught earlier.

Good luck, follow your mentors lead.

Don
 

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I caught a similar swarm wrapped around a trunk last yr and lightly sprayed them with sugar water and then scooped them up gently with my hand and shook them in a box that was 2 ft from the tree. Once I saw them fanning at the box I knew I had the queen, it didn't take long and the flyers were returning to the box so I shook the tree and the majority returned to the box and the ones that returned to the tree never clustered Based off of that, I'd agree you may have a second queen on that tree.
 

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I had a terribly difficult time last year trying to get a swarm off a trunk of a tree in a similar situation (10-12 ft tree). I now have Bee Quick and I think in a similar situation where I didn't have my bee vac I'd try scooping with a cup first, then follow up with bee quick sprayed on a rag or sponge and just start wiping the trunk a little bit until they moved out onto a branch I could cut or to the top of the tree where I could cut.

After a ridiculous affair shaking them off the tree repeatedly I think I eventually dislodged the queen and they abandoned the bee quick truck and moved to another tree entirely. Thankfully they were on an outer branch I was able to clip and go with.
 

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>Everything is sticky from syrup spray.

I have caught hundreds of swarms over 44 years and never sprayed one with syrup.
 
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