Monday, April 02, 2012

My first swarm capture!

Today I got a call from our local bee club (Orange County Beekeepers Association) that two swarms were in an Eastern Red Cedar tree not too far away. I gathered my gear and headed over there. Once I arrived I knew why the bees were there, the garden was fabulous with lots of flowers for the bees.

 One swarm was bigger and about 20 foot up in a 25 foot tall cedar, not very promising to get to at all. The other swarm was about 7 foot up and easy to get to. So I readied myself to get the lower swarm and the upper swarm took flight just as Meg arrived. Meg followed the swarm up the hill and into a woodland where it looked hopeless to find them and on private property. I stayed with the lower swarm ans focused on capturing it.

My first attempt at getting the bees was to cut off the small limb they were on, the limb was heavier than expected and the bees missed my box on the ground by a foot or more. I did get maybe 100 bees in the box. We watched the bees enter the box to investigate for 10 minutes or so. By then the swarm regathered close to where they were to start with in the tree. Decisions had to be made, so I set up the ladder and grabbed the box with  bees inside removed the cover and knocked the bees into the box. Most went in the box!!!

Put the cover on and placed the box on a stump, the bees were going in, none coming out, a good sign. Within 30 minutes most bees were inside the box. The box is actually an 8 frame deep, cover and a screwed on plywood bottom. It  had 2 undrawn frames of foundation and a swarm lure inside.

Left the bees to figure it out and came back at dark to bring the box of bees home. Kimberly the homeowner assured me that all the bees did go inside. I set them down next to the big hive and we'll see in the morning as I need to add more frames and figure out  how to get these girls into a hive. We'll be naming this hive Kimberly.

Update the morning after. The bees are still there barely covering 2 frames. I gave them a boardman feeder full of sugar syrup. Only 5 dead bees in the bottom of the box. Now I need to decide what to do with them being such a small colony?

Oh, today I found 2 Tulip Poplar blooms on the ground in the hellebore garden, so it begins. Bees time to get busy and gather nectar and make lots of honey.


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

The capture of swarms sounds like something on Billy the Exterminator. Yikes. I know the homeowner is glad you were able to get the bees.

Patricia Tryon said...

How exciting! For me, reading this has something of the flavor of a good sci-fi tale.

NotSoAngryRedHead said...

Wow! I felt all tingly with excitement watching the videos. Congrats on the capture!

Sam Smith said...

Swarms have to be the funnest things in beekeeping, they are always exciting! Gratz :)

Carol said...

I love the sound effects Randy! I once stood as close to a swarm after eyeing a ball in my apple tree. I got very close to the cluster but when I turned to take a photo of a skipper nearby they all took flight! I am glad i was not so close then. It was fabulous to be there with the sound and thousands of bees in a cloud . . . then watching them as they all flew away to their newly found hive home. I use to feel differently about folks gathering these bees for home hives but now understand more. I do so love honey . . . duh! The 'wild' honey bees would not share with me. ;>)

Phillip Oliver said...

Wow, impressive.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I hate trimming limbs to remove swarms unless I have to, for just that reason. A swarm can be surprisingly heavy! Glad you managed to get them in the box though, congrats on your first swarm capture. It's fun, and almost addictive ;)

Our afterswarm colony last year (that we just split) was also quite small last spring. We kept them in a Nuc box until it was clear the Queen was producing brood, then transferred the frames to a larger empty hive. I think you'll be alright leaving them in a single hive body for how with plenty of drawn comb. If this Queen is already mated, and starts laying eggs right away, they'll probably do fine. I'd much rather have a small swarm now, than later in the season. I'd feed them until they've drawn any additional comb they may need, unless you have a strong nectar flow. I was surprised how quickly our small swarm built up once the Queen was laying eggs. I look forward to seeing their progress. Good luck!

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Very interesting. I've never seen anyone capture bees before.

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