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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pardon me if this thread has been initiated before, but what is your preferred method for capturing a swarm? Where is the best location from which to retrieve them? How do you get them in the hive? I'm looking for your easiest retrieval here.

My situation is that I have one overwintered hive (fingers crossed!!!), which I may be able to split in March and have ordered a package. I have enough equipment for four hives, so I was thinking of attempting to catch a swarm or two. I am the resident "Bee Lady" at work (10,000+ employees) so I'm pretty sure I would be inundated if I offered to remove offending swarms in the suburbs this spring. It is quite likely I will have the opportunity to be choosy. So, please, give me your best possible scenario.

Please, also take into consideration that I am five-foot-nothing and extremely clumsy. :p

Thanks!
 

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Swarm Trap:

Use a standard hive or nuc setup. Place 1-3 frames of drawn comb in there (the darker the better) Fill the rest with undrawn frames, foundation, (less), plastic, whatever you use. Place at ground level or no higher than you can reach and handle comfortably. Put a few drops of lemmon grass oil at the entrance, on top of a frame, in the comb and on the bottom board. Using about 7-8 drops total. Reapply drop every 3-4 weeks. Set the trap up a couple-few hundred yards away from your hive. Or at another location if you have one.

One of the first swarms I caught was in my backyard. My bees are 10 miles or so away from me. So these where not my bees. Anyway, over the summer I saw a lot of bees in my garden and working the flowers. So I know there is a colony somewhere. There is a huge park an pasture land behind my house and I live in the city in a neighborhood. So I know they are in that mess somewhere. I put out a feeder last Nov and had hundred's off bees at it. I put a trap up early April in my backyard. Next day I went to pick up some nucs I bought about 2 hours south of me. Came home early that evening and went an looked at the trap. A swarm had moved in! I just put up the trap the night before. I was fired up!!

All that being said. You can catch them anywhere. If you have some locations...Friends, Family, Work...put out some 1:1 with a drop of lemmon grass oil or spearmint oil on top of the feeder. If a few hours later you have a ton of bees there. Set up a trap in that location. The hive is close by.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Perhaps I should also add that I am only an egg - a second year keeper. I am skeptical that I will ever have 'spare frames of bood'. I'm coming around as I read how quickly am overwintered hive can build up. Just tying to cover my bases.
 

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Hey Cl,

Make some noise about you wnating to catch swarms. I am too and am also teaching a class at some of the Newton County Schools. I figure between you, Me and Mike in Loganville and BizzyBee in Loganville, we should spread the news pretty good. About Feb 1st, I will get with you and Mike and we can put your names on my list thats going home to the parents......Far as frames are concerened. Id take 1 or 2 and swap them out and put them in one of your meduims a a swarm trap. then just add the lemongrass oil. The bees SHOULD build up those 2 frames pretty quickly that you just put into your hive once the flow starts!
 

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I agree with Hambone, with one exception, this year I'm going to put all my old 10-frame boxes to use as swarm catchers, and the exception is I'm going to make sure I put them in a shady spot, the ones I put in sunny locations last season didn't work, all those combs melted down inside the supers.

I'm in a semi-rural location, with single acres lots or even multiples of acres. I recently discovered that my best source of swarms, that had been coming to live in my swarm traps had been a massive feral colony that was living beneath an old mobile home on my neighbors property, just to the Northwest of ours. They had the bees and mobile home hauled away about a year ago, now I don't get half as many free swarms as I once did. Around here neighbors with yards full of "junk" can be an excellent source of swarms.
 

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I am skeptical that I will ever have 'spare frames of bood'.
Take 3 frames of foundation with some comb wax on it from your other dead hive to use in a swarm trap, and fill in the empty spots around either side of them with empty frames with foundation on them.
I got my lemongrass essential oil (food grade, not merely fragrance type) at my local health food store..

This is what I'm doing too this Spring, to try to lure in a roving swarm from somewhere.
 

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I was able to lure a swarm last year by putting out a 10 frame medium, on the ground, with 2 frames of old comb, 6 frames of empty foundation, and 2 frames of capped honey. I also put a bit of swarm lure at the entrance, but not sure I would have needed it. The bees were checking it out before I took it out of the truck or added the lure.
I've since read that adding honey frames may cause robbing, but I didn't have that problem. They moved right in.

This year I plan to sit out another lure hive (but no honey frames) and hope to catch a swarm off my own hive.
 

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My wife & I are new beekeepers. Last summer a neighbor from around the corner knocked on the door, about a swarm in his back yard. We put a nook box, a lopper, & our beesuits in the wheelbarrow, & pusher it to his house.

The plant the bees where hanging on was 4' tall. Opened the nuc box, removed a few plastic foundation frames, cut the branch with the lopper, & gave it a good shake over the box. Most of the bees fell into the box. We put the other plastic frames in, & put the lid back on.

Within an hour all the bees where in the nuc. screened the entrance, loaded it in the wheelbarrow, & pushed it home.

Totally easy first swarm catch, & a lot of fun.
I screw the bottom boards & lids on my nuc boxes, for easy transportation.
 

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Hey Brenda-

I may try the same thing- luring my own swarm. Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?

Yblocker
 

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I'm going to make sure I put them in a shady spot, the ones I put in sunny locations last season didn't work, all those combs melted down inside the supers.
When is you're swarm season? Main one. I can understand your heat and melting. Our main swarm trap season is April and May thru June with good conditions. It's gets hot at times in those months but not to bad. Not enough to worry about melting. July and August...thats another story...
 

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Around here, most swarming depends on the weather, more than anything else. If we get rain, wildflowers bloom and the bees get nectar and pollen, build up then swarm. I've seen swarms almost any month of the year, the one that was most unexpected was when some came in January, but not from my own bees. For some reason, I'm hoping it's my management, very few swarms issue from my own hives.

Our main swarm season is May, June, and July, soon after the beginning of the Mesquite honey flow, which starts in April.
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yblocker,
I just place the swarm traps where they are convenient for me, that seems to be good enough to work.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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I used to climb up ladders etc. to get them. After one went down my shirt 20 feet up and I'm trying to stay calm enough not to fall while climbing down, I decided no swarm was worth that. So I bought the Hipps Swarm retriever from Brushy Mt. I used that for a while, but now, I just take two well used (now smelling like bees) medium eight frame boxes (a good voume), a lid, a bottom board some old combs if I have them and fill the rest out with some foundationless (to give them a place to cluster) and a q tip with one end dipped in lemongrass essential oil and the other in queen juice (old queens in alcohol) and drop that in. If I didn't have the queen juice I'd buy some "bee boost" pheromone. The bees just move into the box. After dark I close them up and take them home.
 

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Hey Brenda-

I may try the same thing- luring my own swarm. Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?

Yblocker
I don't know. Maybe someone else will chime in on that question.
I did put another lure hive a couple feet from the first and got nothing in it.
This spring I plan to put one out 200 or 300 feet away and see what happens.
 

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c10250, i usually wait until the swarm season starts,then place my old 10 frame hives with one or two drawn comb frames and the rest foundation in a tree about 8 to 10ft. high (i have platforms built to set hives on). I then put a few drops of lemongrass oil on the drawn comb and entrance. Caught 10 for 10 last year:thumbsup:, i tried 5 frame nuc boxes but soon found they were to small for most of the swarms. If you put your swarm catch hives out to early,you may have moth problems. Good luck. Jack
 

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Do you know the optimal distance the lure hive should be from the original? How close is too close?
That's my question, too.

I have a top bar hive I want to use this year, and would like to use it as a swarm trap. Would I have any luck putting it in my own beeyard? Maybe not to catch a swarm from my hives, but there are ~20 colonies (that I'm aware of) with in a mile or two of me and a few ferral colonies in trees as well. Will other bees move into my bee yard?

I could ask the neighbors permission and put some traps on his land, but then I'd be moving bees more than 2' and less than 2 miles, and the TBH would be tough to move.
 
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