adventures in swarm collecting

The hive we made the split from on Saturday swarmed yesterday and went to a conveniently low branch nearby. Dieter helped me to rig up a nuc box under the branch and we chipped away until the whole dropped into the box. I put the box in position next to a national hive and this morning shook the lot in to the big hive. I felt I needed to get them into a bigger hive because it was a BIG swarm and I will not be here for a few days.  Perhaps this second move was a mistake because two hours later they were off again. This time they settled in another slightly less straightforward collecting spot and I was inclined to leave them in the hope that they would move in to a bait hive. Dieter however was determined to have another go, and just as we were having a cup of tea to stimulate the little grey cells better to sort out the situation, off they went. They wooshed around in the garden being swept about by gusts of wind (swarming must be tricky in a wind) and finally came to rest exactly where they had come from.

We decided a skep might be our best collecting vessel and while I held the basket Dieter cut branches until the swarm again dropped smoothly down. I had already set up a national hive in a completely different bit of the garden; somewhere away from the other hives and slightly shady. I immediately shook the bees in to the hive , popped on a feeder and closed it all up. I was aware that all the books say leave the skep , tilted for the flying bees to enter and then move it all in the evening. Bees don’t  read books (that is clear from their refusing to do what the books say they should do, or are they just rebels?) and so far the flyers seem to be homing in on the hive so I presume the queen is in there. I hope, having invested in a night of hive dwelling they will decide to stay, but if not , like Lynne , I will just reassure myself that I am contributing to the wild populations. Unless they end up in some other b***s bait box!

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One Response to adventures in swarm collecting

  1. Paul says:

    The hive we split a couple of weeks ago swarmed a week later too, so it seems splitting is far from a guaranteed prevention of swarming. We’ll probably look back on this in a year or two and think “hah, of course back then I didn’t know you have to do X too”, but right now there seems some truth in the saying “if they have decided to swarm, they’re going to do it”.

    This has led me to ponder about exactly why we want to prevent swarms from our TBH’s. We have no spare hives to put a new colony in; and we’re not that worried about how much honey we get, so unlike a commercial beek it is not a disaster unless they continue to throw off casts and over-weaken the original colony. Also, all the intervention involved in splitting the colony really agitated them for a few days – for no gain as they still swarmed. Not exactly the “low intervention” beekeeping I envisaged when I started beekeeping.


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