Catching a Swarm Fail


Every once in a while being a lazy beekeeper pays off.  On one occasion I caught a swarm of bees in a dead hive simply because I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning out the hive yet and the spring swarm season took care of the issue for me.  Yay for free bees!

This year I figured I’d try the same thing.  By putting out a bait hive you can often catch swarms in the spring without too much effort.  Unfortunately while it was a great idea there are a few things I did wrong and a swarm almost caught was lost.

I could tell that I was about to catch a swarm because a frame of foundation had quite a number of bees on one side of it.  These weren’t my bees (they never even looked at the bait hive) so it must be a swarm.  I was excited to catch a free hive of bees.  So what did I do wrong and what will I do next time?

First I put the hive on cinder blocks as I usually do.  While not a horribly huge deal with a healthy hive, and empty hive attracts ants and all sorts of other pests and with no bees to keep them at bay these pests can easily take over a hive.  Next time I will put the hive on a stand with oil or something similar around the legs to prevent ant infestation.  I’ll also use a bit of cinnamon in the hive but I’ve found cinnamon isn’t quite enough for an empty hive on it’s own.

Second and most importantly, I put the hive too close to my established hive.  Rather than the new bees moving in they had to fight with the established hive who saw these new bees as intruders and robbers.  Had I simply placed the hive a few more yards away it’s likely I could have avoided this issue.

All these things said this was a great learning experience and a reminder that I can probably catch a swarm in my city location every year if I simply do it right.

Do you put out bait hives?  What tips and tricks have you learned about catching swarms this way?


Photo © Copyright Mike Baldwin and licensed
for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


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