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.