Swarm in a Tree
June 13, 2020
P. Michael Henderson
I received a note on NextDoor about a swarm in a tree in the sender's backyard. The problem with swarms in trees is that I'm fairly old and don't like to climb shaky ladders to get a swarm. But I decided to go look.
The bees were about ten feet up in a tree. The bad part was that they were mixed in with a lot of small branches at the end of a larger branch. That makes it difficult to vacuum them.
Here's a closer view of the swarm. You can see how they're clustered in with all the branches.
I used the bee vacuum with the hose connected to a piece of inch-and-a-half PVC pipe and vacuumed as many as I could. The problem was that some of the cluster was behind a branch or two and I couldn't get the pipe close enough to vacuum them. So I tried to disturb them by knocking the branch, getting them to fly away from the cluster. Some would settle in a different area where I could reach them. I suppose I got most of them, but definitely not all of them. I hope I got the queen.
I put them in a hive with some empty comb and fed them some honey. You can see in this next picture the bee vacuum sitting on top of a brood box, with the bottom slide pulled out.
If I got the queen I expect I'll see them clustered on the comb soon and maybe some eggs in a week or so. If not, I'll combine them with another hive.
[Update 6/16/2020] The bees escaped due to a stupid mistake on my part. When I put them in the hive, I put a queen excluder on the bottom so that the queen couldn't get out of the hive.
Last night I went out when it was dark and looked into the hive with a flashlight. The bees were clustered on the comb and everything looked good. I put the top back on and went inside.
However, when I put the top back on, I didn't put it on correctly. It was sitting up on one side - see picture. This is not a picture of the hive, it's some empty boxes I have. I just used them to demonstrate the way the top was sitting.
This provided an escape route for the queen and I suppose she decided she didn't like my hive. When I looked into it today, it was empty. Dumb mistake on my part. I must have had the queen because if she wasn't there, the worker bees would have just stayed.