Ways to Catch “Swarms”

  • 1 – Russian Scions
  • 2 – Bait Hives
  • 3 – Cluster Collections
  • 4 – Extractions (no longer a swarm at this point)

Russian Scion

  • Honey bees will always cluster before moving to a new hive
  • It’s a good idea to set up an attractive cluster staging area
  • Bees still need to be collected however this gives us some control over where they cluster

Bait Hives

  • The right size – between 1.5–2 cubic feet
  • Entrance 2 square inches – near the bottom
  • Weather-tight — should not let any rain in
  • Placed 12-15 feet up
  • In an area where bees frequent

Absolute Requirements

Some kind of container to hold the bees

Ideally this would be a hive box but it can anything that can hold the bees

Nice to Have Supplies

  • Drawn comb
  • Lemongrass and clove extracts
  • Straps
  • Ladder
  • Bucket and a Pole
  • Plastic Bags
  • Bee Brush and or Scoop
  • White Sheet
  • Queen Excluder
  • Buddy
  • Bee Vac
  • Bee Suit

Before Heading Out

  • Verify that they are in fact honey bees!
  • Make sure you have ALL of your swarm catching supplies
  • Double check just before you leave to make sure the swarm cluster is still there and that no one else has been called to collect it
  • Don’t assume the swarm will fit into a small box

Before You Start

  • Wait for the bees to form a single cluster
  • Put the box on top of the sheet
  • Bait the box with drawn comb and/or lemongrass oil
  • Formulate your collection plan

Collecting the Bees

There are different methods depending on the situation

  • Shake the branch and drop the bees into the container
  • Cut the branch and place it in the container
  • Scoop the bees
  • Vacuum the bees
  • Bait a container near the cluster and hope for the best, or
  • Some combination of above

After Collection

  • Put clove oil on branch to deter bees from re-clustering there
  • If you know (or think) you have the queen, put a queen excluder above the bottom board
  • Leave the box until dusk when all the remaining bees should be in the box

Successful Catch!

Take your bees home and re-house them!

by John Holubeshen