Friday, May 2, 2014


Ed Simon from The Bee Shed informed us about swarm prevention, and swarm catching.

Here is a conversation that Ed, with his uncanny ability to translate bee language, heard from one of his hives:

“Yes, Milly?”
“It’s gettin’ real crowded here, I’m getting ready to blow this joint!”
“You betcha, Milly, let’s gather up that out-a-shape Queen and take off!”

It sounds like Milly and Tilly have decided to swarm, and it may be too late to prevent this particular swarm.  Now, most of us probably haven’t heard those exact sounds coming from our hives, but there are ways to tell whether your hive in on the verge of a swarm.  Watch for swarms in May - June often on the first or second warm sunny day after a cool, wet spell.  Gee!  That sounds like any day soon!  Keep a close eye on your hives, because timing is everything. 

Some indications of swarm in the making are crowded hives, and queen cell sightings.

If hives look crowded here are some things you can do to prevent a swarm.
  • Divide your hives.  This is probably the easiest way to prevent swarms.  After division, you can either re-queen or let the hive make their own queen.  Try this method:  

  •  Give them more room by doing a reversal.
  •  Destroy queen cells, but be careful! You don’t want to destroy the only queen in the making!
  • Make nucs.
Okay, so the bees have swarmed.  
Whether or not you are on the swarm collection call list, or you just want to retrieve your wayward bees, there are some tools and supplies that will make the job easier. 

  •             Proper clothing 
                Cell Phone
                Bee brush
                Container such are a nuc with frames and comb
                1:1 sugar/water spray bottle
                Paper towels
                Hive tool
    A long handled bucket with fabric catcher
    Ed has some unique tools to make the task easier.  
    A funnel bucket for swarm catching 
So, you are called to catch a swarm…..

If you are on the swarm catcher list, there are some crucial questions to ask of the caller:
  • What is swarming?  More often than not, it is not honeybees swarming.  For proper identification ask, 
    • Are they hairy? Segmented? Shiny? In a ball? How many are there?

  • Location, location, location
    • Where are they? How high are they located? Are they entering a hole in the ground? In the siding? Is a ladder needed? How long have they been there?
  • Can I take them home?
    • If allowed, don't forget the jar of honey for a thank you!
And a big thank you to Ed and The Bee Shed for coming to our meeting!

For more information, please come to our next meeting on May 19:  Spring Topics by Bob Sitko to include Overnight Splits, Bait Hives and Swarm Chasing