Capturing a Swarm of Honeybees

| 5/8/2017 1:48:00 PM

Tags: honeybees, beekeeping, swarms, Julia Miller, Illinois,

So you’ve spotted a swarm of honeybees. Now what?  In this blog post, I discuss some of the basic considerations when you consider capturing a swarm.

Swarm in Tree

What is a Swarm?

A swarm is simply a gathering of honeybees, clinging together around the queen while scouts look for a new home. Swarming is a honeybee colony’s natural instinct to expand and preserve the species. As the colony begins to fill the available nesting space, the bees prepare to divide. A new queen is raised while the old queen departs with a group of bees. This departing group congregates in a  readily identifiable mass on a tree branch, post or some other structure. Swarming frequently happens in the spring so the bees have all season to build and store up food for the winter months.

Don’t worry about finding swarms. When friends and neighbors find out you are a beekeeper, they will call you when they see one. Your challenge is to determine if you are ready to capture a swarm.

On our farm, we have seen two swarms already this year and were able to acquire one. To successfully capture and hive a swarm, it is prudent to be mindful of a few steps.

Scout the Location

First scout out the location of the swarm. Swarms will often remain in one place for a day or so but it is best to move quickly. It is disheartening to gather all your equipment and gear, load everything and arrive at the location to find the swarm has already moved on.  When assessing the location, think through how to safely gather the swarm. Start with access. Are you able to reach it with a well stabilized ladder or from the back of a truck? Perfect. If you are considering balancing your ladder on top of your pickup, don’t.  As wonderful as it is to capture a swarm, it is not worth personal injury or risk.

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