My Blue Hive swarmed.
I had watched Yellow Hive swarm three weeks ago (goodbye bees! ) They had swarmed at the top of a really tall tree, but I still imagined a way to capture them and bring them back.
Then a week later I watched Green Hive swarm. Now I started to get worried (Why are all my bees swarming? What am I doing wrong? Can I capture them?) and after they swarmed, they were close to the ground and I wanted to get them so badly but we had no place to put them, so Stubborn Boy (aka SB from here out) said “Let it go. We’ll get them next time.” In spite of my protestations that every new colonies of bees we buy is equal to $150 bucks. ~ sigh. There’s no changing his mind once its made up.
So when Blue Hive swarmed on Sunday, I walked into the house with resignation and shared the bad news. Much to my shock, surprise and delight, SB said “Let’s get ’em!)
Swarms happen when bees feel over crowded; not enough room to expand the population, not enough space for honey, etc. Also, it’s part of their genetic makeup to want to swarm as it increases the species… swarms leaves behind a skeleton crew of the old population along with a new queen successor.
Swarmed bees are not very aggressive, nor dangerous, or so I’ve been told. Suited up nonetheless, we found the swarm gathered around a little sumac tree.
SB took all the branches off the top, only leaving the trunk of the tree.
The bees were extended about three feet up and down the trunk, and the tree was also swimming amongst tall weeds, so we chopped all those down. Now moment of truth. There were also a pile of swarming bees on the ground under the tree, which posed a little problem because if the queen was THERE, this wasn’t going to work. Well, we took a chance she was on the sumac trunk. So…
With a little nuc box at the ready (stocked with a full frame of honey), I held the top of the sumac tree while SB cut it gently. Then, once loose, I held it over the box and thumped it over the box three times. All the bees tumbled into the box; SB slammed the lid on and we walked away for 15 minutes to let everyone get a hold of themselves. After 15 minutes, we saw all the bees on the ground had climbed to the front of the box, so I knew we’d captured the queen (yay!). We grabbed the box and wheeled it back into the bee yard, and put it in a new location at least 10 feet away from their former hive.
I also placed a little mason jar with a floating cork outside for them, in case they got thirsty. As of 10 hours after the swarm, they seemed to be doing good. I won’t know for sure until Friday if it worked, but fingers crossed, I might have just expanded the bee yard. Either way, it’s pretty fun to try something that you’ve only ever read about in books.