Swarm season is raging in Albuquerque! In the past 3 weeks, we’ve captured 7 swarms some of which (she says blushingly) were our own.
If you’ve ever wondered how to catch a swarm or wanted to learn more, here’s a quick photo essay documenting the process.
Step 1: Prepare their new home
First, prep the girls’ new home if you have the luxury of doing so (if not, they can stay in the cardboard box for an hour or so). In our case, we’re combining today’s swarm with a small colony from earlier this spring. We’ll separate the two boxes with a sheet of newspaper allowing the girls to slowly become acquainted. We’ll also provide a top entrance for the new box filled with swarm bees.
Next, we grabbed two ladders. I’m holding a cardboard box (any box will do) while Alex shakes the bees from the limb into the box. Really, it was that easy. Once most of the bees are inside, we closed the box part way and carried it over to the new hive.
With bees swirling everywhere (don’t worry, they’re docile when swarming), we dumped the box of bees into a deep hive body filled with frames and foundation. We gave ‘em two bars of honey-filled combs from another stronger hive. And then… we waited.
It took about 10 minutes for all the bees to find their way into their box’s top entrance. So then we packed up and went home for dinner, leaving the newspaper separator in place so that the girls from both top and bottom hives can slowly work their way together.
[Photos by my fearless sister, Grace.]
Swarm Catching Etiquette
If the swarm you’re catching is not on your property, please follow a few simple guidelines.
- Smile. You’re representing honeybees and your local beekeeping community.
- Remember many people are frightened of bees, so take a deep breath and be patient. This is an opportunity to win over someone new to the bee party.
- Introduce yourself to the homeowner and ask permission to enter their yard/property.
- Explain the process and patiently answer any questions.
- Ask permission before you destroy any brush or trim trees or shrubs.
- Be sure to clean up after yourself when you leave.