Monday, June 2, 2014

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's Super Swarm Collector!

Swarming is a big concern for many beekeepers.  First, who wants to lose their bees?  Secondly, some of us live in more city-type environs with close neighbors and REALLY don't want them to swarm, as one can never be too sure about how one's neighbors will feel about that.  Particularly, as our very own Bob Sitko pointed out At the last gathering of the Honey Bee Club of Stillwater,  honeybees are not too fussy where they swarm, it kinda depends on how fit the queen is to travel.  Here are some of the more interesting swarm destinations:

We talked in the last meeting about how to prevent your hives from swarming, and a real easy way to split your hives is the Overnight Split.


An excellent method of splitting spring colonies which is fast, avoids looking for the old queen, and ends with all young bees which easily accept a new queen.

1 – Place an upside down outer cover and empty hive body next to the hive to be split (the parent).
2 – Open the parent hive and remove 5 frames of brood, one frame at a time, shaking (and brushing) the bees back into the parent.
3 – Place the now bee-less brood frames into the middle of the empty hive body, sealed brood in the center, open brood next to them.
4 – Remove two combs of pollen; shake off all the bees, and place them next to the open brood , one on each side.
5 – Repeat with two frames of honey, removed from the parent, shaken, and placed out side of the pollen frames.
6 – Place the inner cover on the split to conserve heat.
7 – Any brood remaining in the parent colony should be moved to the center and empty frames given on each side.
8 – Put an excluder on top of the parent colony, the new split on top of the excluder, outer cover and you are done.

Here is how it works: Overnight, the bees (mostly nurse bees) move up to cover and care for the brood while the queen remains below the excluder. The following morning, move the split to a new stand and give them a new queen using the slow release method.
Bob Sitko


Beekeepers are always looking for a Free-Bee.  Swarms are a sweet deal, not only because of the next-to-nothing cash outlay, but they are all set to draw comb and make honey.  

You don't even need a telephone booth to turn into SUPER SWARM COLLECTOR.  Impress everyone that passes your way by being fully prepared with these items:
  • Bee Suit and Veil
  • Box of some sort
    • Ultimately, this box would be equipped with 3 frames of foundation, 3 frames of dark, drawn comb, and some lemon grass oil as a lure.  
The Ultimate Swarm Collection Set-Up

Or just suck 'em in with this "Bee Vac"
Super Nerd, or Super Beekeeper?

  • Pole Net
    Pole net made from feed bag and electrical conduit.

  • Bee Brush
  • Pruner/Lopper/Folding saw
  • Scoop fashioned from a milk jug
  • Duct tape (A life necessity) 
And remember, Don't Smoke and Don't Spray when collecting a swarm!  (That is, no smoker or sugar spray).


Pretend that you've collected that swarm, they are spinning honey like crazy.  You will want to re-queen at some point.  You need to find the old queen, and if she isn't marked, it's harder than finding Waldo, so you may want to mark her.  

marking tube
Plastic doodad that traps queen on foundation

We've heard of the queen "fainting" when being held in order to mark her.  Since this is the 21st Century, most queens have abandoned their corsets, but are prone to hypoxia when too much pressure is put on her abdomen.  Bob showed us some cool thingamajigs that make handling the queen unnecessary while marking her.  

Bob uses Tester's Model Airplane Paint.  Don't forget to let they paint dry before you release her, or you'll have a real mess.  

Until next time………...

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