Swarm of Bees At Foliat Drive

Monday’s warm weather (29/7/2012) encouraged a swarm of bees.  The bees congregated in a conifer bush adjacent to a public footpath.  I noticed the swarm during the early afternoon and decided it would be to everyone’s benefit if I captured it.

Cardboard Box to Capture Bees

I only needed two pieces of equipment: a cardboard box and my smoker.  I placed the cardboard box above the swarm because bees have a propensity to move upwards.  I gently put puffs of smoke below the swarm to encourage them into the box.

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Half of the bees went into the box the other half went onto the exterior of the box facing the centre of the hedge.  This proved to be problematic!  So I had to do a little hedge trimming around the bees on the exterior of the box, and smoke them down and into the box.

The Swarm of Bees Inside the Cardboard Box

Once the bees were in the box there was the dilemma of whether I could leave them until sunset.  During the day the foraging bees would be going back and forth from the colony.  So if I took the cardboard box full of bees away mid-afternoon,  the foragers would return to a missing colony and just congregate back on the hedge where the queen had been.  As such, I couldn’t take to box away until sunset.  However, the cardboard box was on a prominent spot next to a footpath and I felt the risk was great that someone at some stage would give the box a poke or do something stupid and all hell would break loose!

So I stayed on guard most of the afternoon, with various members of my family bringing refreshments to me.

The Swarms New Home

Close to sunset I got help from the Vale and Downland Beekeepers Association to move the bees.  We removed the cardboard box from the hedge and placed it into a blanket, and wrapped it up.  We took it back to an empty hive.  To get the bees into the hive, a ramp was placed between the ground and the entrance to the hive.  A blanket was placed onto the ramp and the cardboard box was give a single shake onto the ramp.  The bees were encouraged up the ramp and into the hive through the use of smoke and scooping-up handfuls of bees to the top of the ramp.  When the queen entered the hive the rest of the bees soon followed.

Feeding the Bees with Syrup

Tuesday 31st August.  The swarm had spent its first night in their new home.  The bees have a lot of work to do to ensure their survival through the winter.  The main task for the bees is to make combe.  The combe is the hexagonal wax compartments the bees make  to store pollen, honey and to raise their young.  The bees covert sugary nectar into honey and then sweat it out through glands on their side to produce wax.  With the wax they make combe.  The wet summer has hampered bees progress, so to give this new colony the best chance, I have begun feeding them with syrup.  1 lb refined white sugar to 1 pint of water.

Residual Bees

Even with the best efforts, you cannot capture all of the bees from the swarm.  Some of the foragers who returned after the cardboard box had gone have congregated at the hedge.  I estimate there are 30 lost bees.  The residual pheromones of the queen have attracted these lost foragers back to the hedge, but alas the queen has gone!  Over the coming days the bees will disperse, and as the new hive is not very far away, it is hoped they will be reunited with the queen very soon.


15 thoughts on “Swarm of Bees At Foliat Drive

  1. Hi Steven,
    Good presentation, and very interesting and educational. I look forward to seeing the hives sometime in the future. Well Done.
    John W

  2. Hey, I have the exact same swarm catching equipment!

  3. I enjoyed your post. Collecting swarms is beginning to seem easier than I first thought. Thanks for offering another successful story.

  4. I enjoyed your presentation. Thank your posting.

  5. Thanks for sharing! I’m currently doing research for a children’s book on bees and honey-making. Love your post!

  6. I remember bringing home my first swarm. As I said at the time to the friend who was showing me how to do it – it felt like bringing home liquid gold and was the start of some very happy times.

  7. Cool . . .Maybe these bees of yours will be called in to help save us all. lol, Awesome pictures.

  8. You are the MacGuyver of beekeeping! Very cool method for containing the swarm!

    1. Charlton Estate Trust 16 September 2012 — 6:46 am

      Thank-you that’s very kind. Wasn’t MacGuyver a great series?

  9. Nice work! We have four hives on our farm, two were purchased starter boxes and two were swarm captures. As a busy farmer, I’m uncertain if I’d have many hours to “stand guard” and wait all day to warn pedestrians not to do something stupid. I think the bees would keep the intelligence sufficiently high enough in the immediate radius or the bees would employ Darwin principles and dispense their own unique “warning” system. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Charlton Estate Trust 16 September 2012 — 4:49 pm

      My pleasure 🙂

  10. Very interesting and informative. We have a swarm of bees here on the farm and we found the article very good. You have some other good articles on chickens that i have given to my son in law who needed the info. A very good blog.

    1. Charlton Estate Trust 21 September 2012 — 5:47 pm

      thank-you 🙂

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