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How big do these things get?

1818 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  odfrank
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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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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