Friday, May 31, 2013

Catching a Swarm of Bees

Today I got a phone call from my Ag teacher saying that while his wife was mowing she came across a swarm of bees. So I told him I'd be right over and I ran and gathered the necessary equipment (cardboard box, duct tape, my suit, and a brush). I was so excited because for the short time that I've been involved in beekeeping I've been learning about ways to catch swarms and hearing other beekeepers talking about getting them and have always wanted to get one and now I had my chance!

First I want to tell you all what exactly a swarm of bees is and why it happens. If a group of wild bees or a captive hive of bees in someone's bee yard gets too full and they don't have enough room to expand they either leave completely or split in half to go find a new bigger home. When they leave they are virtually harmless. I know this may sound weird but their goal in life now until they find a new home is to protect their queen. So that's why when they swarm you see them in a ball or a cluster. The queen is in the center of that cluster. They have scout bees going and finding new homes but until then they end up in trees, fences, your yard, and virtually anywhere they can form their cluster until they get a home.

I want you all to know that if you find a swarm please don't be afraid. They most likely won't sting you if you go around them. I have seen guys with their bare hands reach in and grab a handful of bees and not get stung once. But If you do find a swarm and know of a beekeeper in your area PLEASE CALL THEM!!!! Beekeepers live to catch swarms. They catching them because it's fun, they get a new hive of bees which can cost up to $100, and the bees may be wild bees which are hardier and are better honey producers. But I guarantee you that they will be right over. Plus if anyone in your family is allergic to bees they would be happy to help you out!

A Beekeeper (me) ready to help!! ;)

So after I got over to his house I was expecting a little cluster maybe a softball or melon sized but when I arrived it was a cluster about as big or bigger than a basketball!! That is about 30,000-40,000 bees!


 
Since there were more bees than I expected instead of using my box to put majority of the bees in I borrowed their trash can with a snap on lid to catch the majority of the bees.



After I shook them into the trash can there were hundreds of bees flying all around our heads! I did use the cardboard box to get a few of the stragglers so that I got as many bees as I could to make a decent sized hive.



Me taping up the box with some duct tape. I poked a bunch of air holes so that they had some circulation. I then put both the trash can and box in the backseat and passenger seat of my car. My Ag teacher was a little skeptical of this but I hoped knew they were sealed up tight enough they wouldn't get out. That would have made one interesting trip home if they all escaped. You would have gotten a nice show of some crazy person running around with bees trying to sting her alongside the road.

The whole trash can was lined with thousands of bees!
 
So after I got home I set up a new hive next to my other hives with 2 deep brood (where they make babies and honey for themselves for winter). One of the brood boxes had frames and the other one was empty so I could funnel them down into the hive. I hit the side of the trash can so they all gathered on the bottom and then just dumped them in and knocked them all out of the trash can.


Then I did the same with the little box. But I guessed that the queen was in the trash can by the way the bees were acting. Then I quickly shut the lid and hoped the queen was in there so they start making babies!



You can see them flying around in the air.



I hope this was a learning opportunity. I have really enjoyed beekeeping over the past 3 years and really try to encourage others to get involved with it because it is such a great hobby that the whole family can get involved with. If you have any questions about what was going on in the pictures or something I said that you didn't quite understand please feel free to ask I love answering questions about beekeeping. No question is a stupid question!
 
Have a Great weekend. I will post later on to let you know if they stayed  or not and their progress over the summer if they stay!!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for explanation and pictures. More adventure than I ever plan to do. Was this an item of things you want to do in your liife time.

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    1. Not really It's always something beekeepers want to do. You hear everyone talk about it and it's always lots of fun to do!

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  2. Can't believe you did that all by yourself! Grandpa Walter was one of those people that could do it without suit or any protection. He was on call more than once around Moravia I think. Loved your pictures! Love your honey too! It has a better, lighter, taste than what I can buy at the store! U. Denny bought some from an Amish or Mennonite girl that brought some to town and even it wasn't as good as yours. May have some honey on toast for bedtime snack! Love ya. Aunt Marie

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    1. Yes it wasn't that hard. Also the only reason I wore a suit was because the little chicken coop I went in had a lot of weeds and they were the itchy kind so I wanted to be covered. :)

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  3. Wow! I don't think I've ever seen that many bees at once.

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    1. Yes there were a lot of bees there! I've seen many pictures of swarms and it's one of the biggest I've seen. An average hive has probably that many or a little more in it so it was a very large number of bees!!

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  4. thanks for the very interesting post on bee keeping and swarms! My family used to have bee hives and we were just talking about my dad catching a swarm that appeared on our farm one day! How far away do you keep your bee hives from your house?

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    1. Thank You! We only keep our hives less than 100 yards away from the house. We often find them buzzing around in the yard but never more than a couple of them and they never bother us. It has been a wonderful hobby to have. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am getting my application together to run for Missouri State Honey Queen for 2014 which would be lots of fun. Thanks for stopping by!!

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