SoCal Beekeeping

Getting a Swarm High in a Tree
P. Michael Henderson

My friend, JT, called me yesterday.  He had a swarm in one of his trees so I went over to see what the situation was.  There was a swarm, all right, but it was pretty high in the tree.  Way too high to reach with a ladder - and in any case, at my age I don't climb high on ladders.

I told JT to leave them alone and they'd depart in a day or so.  But JT was not going to give up on them.  He came up with the idea of using a piece of pipe on the end of my bee vacuum hose to reach up to the bees.

He bought some 1 1/2 inch black plastic pipe and the next day I went over there and we vacuumed the bees.  We used duct tape to connect the bee vacuum hose to the pipe. 

Here are a few pictures of me on a ladder vacuuming the bees.  It worked very well - better than I expected.  In this picture, I'm getting ready to start vacuuming.

Here, I'm vacuuming the bees.  I was careful and gentle and vacuumed from the bottom, just a little at a time.

This picture was taken towards the end of the capture.  There's not many bees left in the tree.  Some were behind the branch and I couldn't vacuum them easily so I shook the branch to get them to fly off, and them just put the pipe at the location where they were.  As the bees came back, they were sucked into the vacuum.  I was able to get almost all the bees.

We took the bees to my place and put them in a hive with one frame of drawn comb.  We'll just have to wait and see how they do, and whether I got the queen - and whether she survived being vacuumed.  I kill very few bees when I vacuum them with my rig, but you never know.

I'll update this in a couple of weeks to let you know how they're doing.


2019-10-20 I monitored the hive but there was no brood in the drawn comb that I gave them.  Obviously no queen.  I took a frame of brood from one of my other hives and gave it to them but they didn't create any queen cells.  So, dead hive.  When I got the bees from the birdhouse (see next entry), I put those bees into the hive where these bees were.  There were a few bees left in the hive when I put the new bees in.  I hope they were able to get along.