Swarm in a Tree

July 1, 2020
P. Michael Henderson

My friend, JT, called me about a swarm in a tree in his son's back yard.  It was fairly high so we had to use a stepladder and the PVC pipe connected to the bee vacuum hose.  With that, things went fairly well and we were able to get just about all the bees.  Didn't take any pictures of us collecting the swarm but I did take a picture of the hive I settled them in.

I have a couple of frames of drawn comb and the rest are plastic foundation.  One brood box and a telescoping cover.  There's a queen excluder between the brood box and the bottom board - you can see it as a line of silvery metal.  This will make sure the queen can't leave the hive.  Once she starts laying I'll remover the excluder because it would trap drones in the hive (as well as the queen).

I fed them some honey this morning (July 2) to help them get started and I may give them some more tomorrow.  They're flying out so I expect they're out collecting nectar and pollen.

Otherwise I'm just going to leave them alone, especially after my mistake with the last swarm, and see if they start raising brood.  If I didn't get the queen I'll merge them with another hive - but I think the chances are good that there's a queen.  I have my fingers crossed:-)


July 7, 2020  Well, I screwed up and lost another swarm.  I put the swarm in a hive in my bee yard and fed them some honey.  All was good.  Then, a couple of days later, I fed them some more honey.

Later, I looked in on them and found that the other bees in the yard were robbing the hive.  There were a bunch of dead bees on the ground in front of the hive - the bees had been defending the hive but were overwhelmed.  One thing I didn't do was to reduce the entrance to something small, maybe an inch wide, so they could better defend the hive.

The next day I look in the hive and it was empty.

But I learned some things.  Here's my list for hiving a swarm:

         1.  If possible, give them some drawn comb.

         2.  Make sure the hive is protected from ants.  Put the legs in oil.

         3.  Reduce the entrance to something small, maybe an inch wide.

        4.  Put an excluded between the bottom board and the first brood box to trap the queen inside.

        5.  If using a screened bottom board, make sure the bottom is closed.  The bees need the box to be dark.

        6.  If you feed, don't feed honey.  Give them sugar water.  Honey has an odor and it attracts other bees to rob the hive. 
            Sugar water doesn't have any smell

Hopefully, I'll get called about another swarm this year and I'll do a better job.