Bees can be insanely awesome, and it’s never more evident than when they swarm. We had an epic week of chasing swarming bees, its that time of year… swarmy. How to catch a bee swarm? You gotta act Swift:
Why do bees swarm?
Bees swarm when the colony is growing very quickly and the queen feels that it’s time to franchise. The queen takes about half of the worker bees (can be 10,000 or more) and leaves to find an appropriate spot to build a new hive. The worker bees that are left behind raise a new queen and continue life as normal.
Surprising fact: Bees can look crazy when they swarm but they are actually super docile and rarely act aggressively (this is because they stuff themselves with honey for the long flight to their new hive location and are a little honey drunk).
How to recognize a swarm:
As a beekeeper there are early signs of an imminent swarm, such as the aptly named swarm cell (the workers create swarm cells to raise a new queen when they feel the old queen is going to leave in the near future). For the rest of us the first sign of a swarm is a growing mass of bees emerging from a hive such as the picture below:
Once out of the hive the bees can be seen and heard flying in a tight pattern above the old hive. They will usually start to congregate on a tree brach with the queen at the centre (apparently waiting until everyone shows up).
How to catch a bee swarm:
This is where you need to act fast. The bees may only stay in a clump like this for a couple minutes and somehow you need to get it contained in a bucket or box. Raise the container up from below the clump and shake the branch until all the bees fall off. The bees will begin to take flight so put a lid on it and get it to an empty bee box as soon as possible. Gently dump the bees in a new box with frames, place the cover on it but do not seal it up. If you successfully captured the queen she should find the new box a suitable home and start to settle in.
Not Swift enough to catch the swarm? They’re gone! Maybe a neighbouring beekeeper will catch them, how nice of you to share.
Did you catch Sarah’s other bee clinics? Check them out here:
Spring bee checkup (featuring Drake)
Bee Reproduction (with Dave the bee magnet)
Tired of all the words? Just watch the videos on our Gridlessness youtube channel.
Now you know how to catch a bee swarm. Appreciate Sarah the master Beekeeper and her hapless beeminion? Like it, share it and subscribe to it. Hate bees and hope the planet dies? Share this post with your FB friends to let them know what the enemy looks like!
Bee food, yummy: