Beekeeping: Catching A Bee Swarm In A Tree

by Tammy Taylor~

Ya know how you start your day with an idea of the tasks at hand? Work on blog stuff, finish honeysuckle jelly, strain the honey from the comb we had to remove from a hive yesterday. You know, that kinda stuff.

Well that’s how my day started, then everything changed. RancherMan came in from the pastures & told me it was time to suit up, we’ve got a bee swarm to catch. Woo-hoo!  Apparently he saw a swarm of bees about 15-ft up in a tree right near our pasture gate.  We’ve never captured a swarm before so here’s yet one more opportunity to learn something exciting about beekeeping!  And maybe get to add a new hive of bees to our group as well.

We recently got the opportunity to catch a bee swarm high up in a tree. But we were able to stay on the ground! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Can We Catch A Bee Swarm In A Tree From The Ground?

Now there are apparently lots of different ways to catch a bee swarm.  We’ve heard others speak about their experience catching swarms and we’ve studied and researched other ways to catch them too.  But we’ve never actually caught a bee swarm ourselves.  So this will be exciting, but fifteen feet up? It seems risky to crawl atop a tall ladder since this is our first swarm and we’re really not sure what to expect.  Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to do this from the ground instead?  Hummm…    It’s time to put on our thinking caps.

We recently got the opportunity to catch a bee swarm high up in a tree. But we were able to stay on the ground! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Catching A Bee Swarm: Use Whatcha Got!

RancherMan hit his shop and pulled out a paint roller and removed the painting sleeve.  Then he screwed it onto an extendable pole.  Seeing the question on my face he explained he was going to take a 5-gallon bucket & hook the paint roller through the handle of the bucket.  We should be able to stand on the ground and lift the bucket all the way up to the swarm.  Excellent!

We recently got the opportunity to catch a bee swarm high up in a tree. But we were able to stay on the ground! #TaylorMadeHomestead

How about this then”, I added.  “We can also use that extendable handle limb lopper to hook around the branch and shake it, allowing the bees to drop into the bucket.”  Aaaaahhhh teamwork.  Gotta love it!  But would it work?

We already had a brand new painted deep hive waiting in the wings to add another hive anyway so we pulled it out and prepared.  RancherMan got the smoker going and we slipped into our beekeeping gear – a vented jacket, veil & gloves.  We were wearing the heaviest denim jeans we had and we slipped on our knee-high rubber boots.  That should keep us well protected in the event the bees get agitated.

Then out to the swarm we went.  I hooked the 5-gallon bucket onto the paint roller & hoisted it high above our heads.  I held it right under the swarm and RancherMan used the extendable saw’s hook to grab onto the limb and shake-shake-shake!  Bunches of bees fell into the bucket.  So I lowered it and RancherMan poured them onto the top of the open 10-frame deep hive we had waiting.  We repeated this a few times until very few bees remained on the limb.

We recently got the opportunity to catch a bee swarm high up in a tree. But we were able to stay on the ground! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Success!

About 15-20 minutes later the swarm was removed from the tree and the bees were in the hive box.   We put an entrance reducer on the front since this new hive isn’t established.  Our hopes are that the reducer will give them an easier time defending their new home.  RancherMan also added a frame feeder along with a mixture of sugar & water at a 1/1 ratio.  This should make it easier for the the new hive to get established.  Then we placed this swarm’s hive on the elevated hive rack with the others.  And just like that, our 4 hives turned to 5!

RancherMan edited the video we had running to show you how we did it.  (Thank you, RancherMan.  MUAH!)

It went great and we’re pretty sure we captured Her Majesty along with the others, the bees are now all happily residing in their new home. Yea!

~TMH~

BEGINNING BEEKEEPING SERIES:

(You can see ALL our posts about beekeeping HERE)

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14 thoughts on “Beekeeping: Catching A Bee Swarm In A Tree

  1. Amanda

    Congratulations on catching your first swarm! The old beekeepers who taught the class i took this spring said that in their experience, swarms can be drawn to other hives. All of them had stories about going out to check on their bees and finding a swarm that wasn’t theirs hanging out nearby. One said he keeps an empty hive body open out in his driveway during swarm season just in case, and one year he caught four swarms in just a few days that way, no work at all except to move the new hive to the backyard and put out another empty box! You never know, you could find another swarm tomorrow!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Interesting, Amanda. We have a couple of swarm boxes set up but none are really close to the hives. Perhaps we need to relocate one of them. Thanks for the tip! ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. tonia conner

    Very interesting, I thought it would more time consuming as well. You make it look easy, but I’m sure there’s more to it than it looks like. What kept them in the bucket until you poured then on to the hive box?

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Tonia, the bees fell into the bucket and although some flew back out, most of them stayed in the bucket. We simply poured the bucket out over the open hive box and they made their way down into the frames. It was so awesome! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      Oh no, Colleen! Depending upon your internet connection & the device you’re using, the video may need to buffer first after you click the play button. It could take 15-20 seconds. Hopefully that helps – let me know! ~TMH~

      Reply
      1. ColleenB.~Texas

        Went to Google Chrome and was able to watch the video :} Great teamwork. Hope you will keep us posted on your new collected hive. Hope they are doing well

        Reply
        1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

          Awesome, glad you could view the video Colleen. Sometimes It’s just easier to understand what’s being said when you can see it in action. ~TMH~

          Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I was surprised it went so fast too Judy. Perhaps this was just the perfect setup of circumstances. I’ll be interested in seeing how it goes when we get to catch our next swarm. ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I’ve been afraid of bees since I was a kid, Jean. When RancherMan suggested taking up beekeeping I told him that it was HIS endeavor, not mine. But I’d still suit up & go with him to the hives sometimes to take photos for the blog and I learned something important – those bees didn’t care about me. Although I’d assumed all my life that if a bee was nearby its only thought was to seek me out & sting me, I learned that wasn’t true at all. I now accompany RancherMan to the hives almost every time and I continue to learn much each time. This swarm capture didn’t frighten me at all. Yes they were airborne when we shook the limb, but none of them cared about us at all. They were simply sticking close to their queen. It looks like this swam is settling in nicely to their new home and just like that – our 4 hives turned to 5! 🙂 ~TMH~

      Reply

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