Capturing a Swarm of Bees
We’ve only been ‘beekeepers’ for a few months so imagine our surprise when we get a call from someone at our local association informing us of a reported swarm and inviting us to go and collect it! Sure, we’ve read the books, watched the videos and have the equipment and insurance but neither of us has actually taken any part in a swarm capture before. So, of course we said yes!
Here’s the swarm as we found it on the morning of Sunday 22nd July 2012:
According to Wikipedia, there’s an old English poem that goes:
A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July isn’t worth a fly.
(Or possibly for the last line, “A swarm of bees in July, let them fly.“)
On top of that, this is by all accounts a small swarm. But this is the swarm in front of us and at the very least we owe it to the lady whose garden it’s in to remove it. Fortunately the bees were only about a foot off the ground, with the only difficulties being the cramped conditions behind the greenhouse and the fact they had settled through a trellis fence. With a little water spray to calm them it wasn’t too hard to sweep the majority off the fence and into the box. I had already made a another nuc (similar in design to this one I described earlier) so they went straight in there with the crown board leaving a small gap.
Within seconds it was clear that we’d captured the queen as many bees positioned themselves by the entrance and started fanning pheromones from the Nasonov gland on their abdomens.
It was clear that not all the bees would enter the nuc until dusk so we explained the situation and said our good-byes until the evening. Returning at dusk all was quiet and every single bee seemed to be in the nuc, at least there were none on the fence or anywhere else we could see. Result! Without further ado we sealed the box and drove them home.
Only time will tell whether a swarm this size, at this time of year, most likely with a virgin queen will be able to build itself up in time for winter, especially given the variable weather this year. However, this has been another interesting experience on our beekeeping journey!