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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just looking to commiserate and also for a tip or two to avoid this going forward.

This is my 3rd year beekeeping but I have never captured a swarm. My bee yard is removed from my residence so in the past the bees have left and I was none the wiser. This year I noticed cells and after the recent cold spell here I figured I might check on things today since it was warm. Saw two large swarms hanging on the inner branches and trunk of two small trees just outside my hives.

The trees are young evergreens with multiple small branches. The cluster was only inches from the ground. I tried my best to slip a box beneath but there was very little clearance. I got a box situated but trying to jiggle the branches proved to be difficult due to the number of branches and the fact the bees were clotted all around multiple ones. I tried pushing the trunk, no luck. Tried trimming some lower branches for more clearance. The bees that missed the box ended up on the ground and then crawled back up the trunk making them even harder to get to. I kept shaking branches but noticed the bees that had landed in the box were making their way back up the branches and rejoining the cluster. I did not want to cut off the whole bottom side of the tree branches.

I set most of the bees aside and got another bigger box. I had a leaf blower in my truck so I set the box beside the cluster (which was around the trunk of the tree) and gave them a light blast. It managed to blow some of the bees into the box. I transferred like this multiple times until I had gotten most of the bees.

I moved them to another yard over 10 miles away. I had my hive boxes ready with foundation frames. I did not have any spare comb. I laid a sheet leading up the hive entrance and dumped the bees on the sheet. They began to make their way towards the hive but instead of going into the entrance, they continued up the front of the hive and started to cluster on the edge of the cover. When the reached max capacity hanging on the outside of the hive the rest just aimlessly moved around, off the sheet and onto the grass. By this point it was getting dark and colder outside. I did not want to leave the bees hanging to the outside of the hive so I spent time trying to scoop and move the bees into the hive by tossing them in on top of the frames with the cover off.

The other swarm did not seem interested in walking into the hive so I took the sheet and shook it into the top of the hive with the frames out. By this time it was dark and much cooler. The bees were moving less. I tried to collect as many as I could and get them into the top of the hive. Finally around 10:30pm I closed up both hives.

So I feel like I totally botched the whole process while having good intentions. I had seen plenty of swarm captures when the bees are hanging on a solitary branch or they are clumped on the side of a fence post. Had never seen one where the bees are inside a young evergreen tree next to the trunk. I have also seen plenty of videos of guys dumping a swarm on the ground outside a hive and the bees march right in. Nothing seemed to go according to plan. I am pretty disappointed.

I know I screwed this up but I tried to the best of my knowledge and ability. Any tips for next time? I have a swarm trap on my property. Should I have waited to see if one of the swarms would shack up in it? Should I have waited until morning to transfer them? Thanks for any advice.
 

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Having some drawn frames really helps. I've put swarms in hives with just foundation only to have them leave in an hour. Caught my own swarm yesterday that was on multiple branches at ground level. just shoved a deep up to them with drawn comb and 1 frame of capped honey and they marched right in.
 

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We live and we learn.
If you are going to have swarms,. perhaps put up a couple of swarm traps in the spring baited with a couple drops of lemongrass oil (Walmart and General Nutrition Center usually have it in stock).
When you inspect your hives are you seeing any swarm cells now? Bees make supersedure queen cells to replace an aging queen and they make swarm cells to split the hive.
A good video on swarm control:
 

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Bait boxes can be worth their wt in gold. When my hives swarm, I nearly always lure 'em back with the boxes (standard = a comb frame, foundationless frames, tiny bit of lemongrass oil, volume of a deep). I captured one lately (12' up-and-in a thick hedge; traumatic for them -- dumped into a box, then dumped into the deep) and within days, the gang'd vanished. I may not have captured the queen, or ... they had been through enough and decided to vacate. Can't help but think that -- had I left them alone in the hedge -- they would've moved into 1 of the 4 bait boxes I have on-site. Ya never know ....
 

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You don't know yet if you screwed up. If the bees all fly away, or you missed the queen, that might count as a screw up, but it's really par for the course to sometimes miss a queen.

I had a small swarm last summer that I thought was all done, but then found the queen later outside the box. Fortunately was able to catch her and drop her in, but that was purely luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The queen wasn't in the box, if she is there they will march right in and start fanning.
Maybe a bit of redemption today. Found another two swarms when I was on the property mowing. One made it into the swarm trap I had in a tree. The other clumped onto that small tree with the small branches again. I tried scooping at first but too many small branches. Went ahead and cut the top half of the tree off and dumped them in an 8 frame deep with an empty super on top for space. This time the bees marched right into the hive after 10-15 min.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You don't know yet if you screwed up. If the bees all fly away, or you missed the queen, that might count as a screw up, but it's really par for the course to sometimes miss a queen.

I had a small swarm last summer that I thought was all done, but then found the queen later outside the box. Fortunately was able to catch her and drop her in, but that was purely luck.
True. Checked on both of the hives today in their new location and there was activity in each. More so in one than the other. I hope maybe they decided to stick around despite my best efforts to piss them off :ROFLMAO:
 

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I am a big fan of swarm traps, and I use about 25 of them, but I say when you see a swarm cluster grab it. Bird in the hand and all that.

If I had been in your situation, I may have tried setting a box with comb and even brood as close to the cluster as I could and giving them a chance to see if they’d start walking in. The other idea with those tight thicket spaces is a bee vac. Of course, you can only make use of the resources you have available.
 
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