Catching A Swarm Part 1

So here we are in the bee yard its May 7th we got a swarm already we had you know bees would have really well last over the winter and then we had a lot of good weather in late March and early April. So they got a lot of pollen bruited up well and this yard happens to be particularly strong one. Then it got cold so the bees are all confined and there is all this brood hatching you know we had left the wraps on it because it was cold too. So they’re kind of confined and really congested in the hive so I’m hoping that this is a one off. But there’s just we’ve got about two swarms in this yard. They always land in different spots it’s very unpredictable that’s part of the fun of catching swarms you have to figure out a different way to do it in a different circumstance. This was really low to the ground we can’t shake the tree to get it off. So that’s why I have a brush in my hand we’re going to brush the bees off, first will clear away anything that’s in the road. And my preference is to shake the bees on the ground in front of the hive you’re putting them into so that we can then see if they have a queen. 

So the queen will kind of walk on top of the bees as they’re running into the hive so that’s what we’re going to do here. We will shake there is pretty small swarm so we’ll shake them into a new box which will be easy for us to pick up later and take back home. Our tradition of work is to have the new employees catch the swarms the first swarm and so we have Monique here ready to go and I’ll just talk her through this as we go along. So first Monique take the smoker and we’re just going to apply a little bit smoke all the way around. These bees will have a lot of honey in their honey stomachs and they have no hive to OK, that’s enough there. They have a lot of honey in their honey stomachs because they are going to be hanging out for a while. They’re not really very defensive in that situation so you can stick your hand right in there nice and warm and you can see there’s no defensive response there. So we need to get a few things out of the way to be able to catch them. We’re going to brush them down on to a piece of like a small tarp here and then we’ll take them over and shake them in front of the entrance of their snook. 

So without disturbing the bees too much or making them fall try and break away or cut away some of those branches. Should I shake them off? Yep, just to get them right out of the way don’t worry about a few bees just throw them out of the way. OK that’s good I’m just going to nip that one off and that one grab it there. Oh. We’re going to leave that one in place because if we break it a whole bunch of bees will fall off so you can get those ones out from different down below. Like these ones? Yep that’s perhaps a little bit big for that there you go and then that other one. We just want to make sure there’s lots of space there. Get them out of the way and we can give another little pop there I’m going to get this rock out of the way. They don’t want any sharp bumps on the trees are going to and we’ll leave that one there are going to cause in the fall. We don’t want that we want them all to fall onto this tarp you grab that end of the tarp and we’re just going to wrap pull it up, read up against the tree so we can try and catch all the bees. 

If we’ve catch the queen the rest of them we’ll come over later and so now what we’re going to do is we’ll just start at the top and we’ll try and knock them off down there like so and just gently work away getting those down and I’ll apply a little bit of smoke. OK. They’re going to be watching for the queen as you go we clip a queen’s wings. Sometimes they don’t get clipped quite enough. And a queen can fly or sometimes they try to swarm with the queen with the clipped wing and can’t and then they go with a virgin. They swarm with a virgin and so I kind of like to know what’s happening here. OK, we’re going mind if I just take that for a second this is a bit awkward because they’re really stuck on there. So you can be a little bit more aggressive and just kind of feel them down like that. Yeah that’s deep keep going there lets try and turning it now that you’re down a little bit closer to the bark. Let’s get the brush going this way. OK. And just try and take all of them off as you’re going down. 

You could see a lot of them are climbing back up again and they’re all fanning they’re doing what’s called nazer knobbing, and then they follow that pheromones stream. Alright there you go and I’ll smoke them a bit to try and discourage those from coming up. Not a very big swarm but it’s early so it might do something. If they had gone with the clipped queen and she couldn’t come with them they would have gone back to the hive already. We saw this swarm here yesterday and they’re still here today so I believe they have a queen with them. They were confined for at least a week without much flight because it was so cold. And so the first warm sunny day yesterday the swarm emerged from the hive OK, that’s good there. Now, what are going to do is just take that corner of the the tarp grab it there and you can feel the weight there. Yeah. So grab the other corner and now we’re going to open up you see we got frames in here all ready to go and then we will open up the entrance to the box which is right there. 

And we’re going to just position it here. Very often we need to shake them on the ground but today we don’t need to because they’re already on the tarp. And then you can just set that box over the edge there and we’ll give them a smoke and try and get them running in that entrance. So smoke from this direction here so they’re trying to move away from that smoke. And pretty soon they’ll start running in nazer knobbing and then they’ll all follow that stream. But Monique just have a look for the queen her abdomen will look a little bit different than the other ones but when they are swarming the queen’s stop laying eggs for a few days so their abdomen shrink. So they’re barely bigger than a worker bee they’re a little bit hard to picket. You don’t know how we see them but we’d like to take the opportunity to at least try and then I know whether it’s got a virgin or mating queen get that tarp up close. Oh, now we got another swarm to catch that might be a little bit easier we’re just going to let those go in.