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How to Capture Bee Swarms Into a Hive

If you want to learn a new skill that truly makes a difference, you should learn to capture bee swarms.

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Capture bee swarms easily and effectively with the following steps. I was only a week into beekeeping when I had the opportunity to catch my very first swarm.

So, what is a swarm anyway? A swarm of bees meaning is a large group of bees who follow the queen away from the home hive. They are usually spotted as a large cluster with the queen in the middle. For whatever reason, they have left their old hive. They are now without a home.

You’ll more than likely receive a phone call during your time as a beekeeper to capture bee swarms. Here are some highlights I’ll be covering in this post:

  • How to capture bee swarms?
  • How do you attract bees into a new hive?
  • Bee Swarm Removal step by step tips
  • Equipment needed to capture bee swarms.
  • When do bees swarm (time of year)?
  • What causes honey bees to swarm?
  • And more!

Keep in mind that the majority of the general public does not know what to do when they see a swarm of bees nestled onto their property. Here are a few guidelines you need to know before going after that swarm.

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capture bee swarms

Why Swarms Need Capturing

Here are a few reasons to learn how to attract a swarm of honey bees:

  • Capture bee swarms because it’s the right thing to do.
  • They might be unwanted where they are. 
  • Thus, the people who own the building or tree would possibly kill them otherwise.
  • Free Bees for you!
  • Finally, bee swarm removal is fun! 

Bottom line, bees need a safe new home they can thrive in. They need to be able to work consistently and store the fruits of their labor.

You should know there are many beekeepers to call if you need help catching bee swarms on your property. And you should have someone help you the first time who knows what to do to ensure safety.To find these folks, contact your local Extension Office. You can also ask around to local beekeepers.

Beekeepers are more than happy to acquire new hives of bees. The more bees, the better! Plus, they are essentially a new hive with free bees to accumulate to the beekeeper’s already growing colonies.

To properly capture bee swarms, like the one below, you’ll need a few equipment items.

Equipment Needed for a Bee Swarm Trap

What Time of Year Do Bees Swarm?

The main seasons bees could swarm highly depends on the dynamics of a hive. So, Spring and late summer/fall are the two main times of the year for common bee swarming times.

Here are some bee swarming signs you should be looking for before the swarming seasons:

  • An Overcrowded Hive
  • The Age of Your Queen – A Queen’s life span is 3-5 years. 
  • The temperature inside the hive might be too hot – Ventilation is super important!

These are really easy symptoms to overcome. For the overcrowded hive, you can split the hive in the spring or add on supers. Replace your old Queen every three years. And be sure the hive has plenty of air flowing in and out of it. 

Scheduled checks and maintenance of your hives will help you to know what’s going on inside. And while these checks are only preventative, there’s still a chance your bees could swarm as well as other’s. 

So, let’s go into a couple of different ways for how to build a bee swarm trap  and how to lure bees into a hive.

capture bee swarms

How to Catch a Swarm of Bees in a Tree

First, locate the swarm and check the scene. Then, make your plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need to cut anything? (If so, you have your hand saw).
  • Any sign of the queen (More than likely she’s within the cluster)
  • Is the scene safe for me and for the bees? 

Once you have your plan made, administer your equipment:

Set the equipment up underneath the swarm (if you can). Assemble the box hive on a sturdy foundation. It should not be able to tip over. Keep the lid off the box so the bees can find their way into the hive.

Then, bait hive by spraying a few of the frames with sugar water. Fill the mason jar entrance feeder with 1:1 sugar water. The feral bees are more than likely very hungry. The sugar water will be the perfect bee bait recipe to lure the bees in.

Be sure to have your protective equipment on at all times. Even though the bees are docile and calm, you never know when you might get popped. 

Then, you wait. How long? As long as it takes for the queen and bees to make there way into the hive. Keep in mind the bees go where the queen goes. It’s incredibly important that the Queen is there. If she’s not, the bees won’t stay in the hive for very long.

If you see the queen on the swarm, you can easily catch her and gently place her into the hive. This is an easy method for baiting bees and the bees should follow her in. 

The above steps is only one way to capture bee swarms. What if these bees won’t move into an empty hive? Here’s another way. 

Another Way to Capture Bee Swarms 

You can either wait for the bees to go in themselves. Or you can handle them gently. For this, you definitely need your protective equipment on. 

Then, you can push the bees a little bit by gently picking up a handful and physically carrying them to the hive. This process can help move them into the hive a little bit quicker. Handling the bees may also be helpful in making sure the Queen make it into the new hive.

If you can’t set the box up underneath the swarm, you might need to move them over yourself. You can use a hand saw to carefully cut a branch and then set the entire swarm (branch and all). 

Of course, it’s always good idea to wear protective covering and gloves. They will fly around you, but really they are just trying to get organized in the chaos.

Keep in mind that these swarm bees will more than likely be very docile. They don’t have a hive to defend right now, so they don’t have any reason to sting unless they are provoked. So, stay calm and just enjoy.

Organization generally happens within a couple of hours. I caught my first swarm within two hours. When they appeared to be enjoying their new home, I put the lid on the top of the box. Here’s another tip for keeping them in the hive.

Using a Queen Excluder

This is a tip I’ve learned over time from another beekeeper. When you set up your hive, use a queen excluder between the bottom board and the brood box. This keeps the queen inside the hive. If the queen stays, the bees will stay, too. 

But if the queen leaves, the hive leaves and all your work was for nothing. It may not work each and every time, but it’s a strategy that might be worth trying out. 

After the swarm is caught, immediately move the hive where you want it to be. Then, the new hive needs to be left alone to figure out their dynamics. 

What to do after catching a swarm of bees

Once you’ve captured your bee swarm, it’s important to leave them alone for a few days up to a week. Continue to feed them sugar water until they are well established.

I simply watch the mason jars and just refill them when they get low. The bees will eat what they need. This will nourish them as they are working hard and expending a lot of energy building their new home.

Also, watch for activity through the entrance of the hive. You should see a few bees leaving and some coming back. This is healthy bee activity if you see just a few leaving to find pollen and water. 

It’s important to not disturb the bees progress for a week or so. It’s very normal and tempting to open up the box and watch them work. But, you must not.

You must leave them alone for now. Productivity depends on it. They have to find their own zen and balance within their hive. They can find it all on their own, but they need a peaceful environment to do so.

capture bee swarms

I Hope You Get A Call To Capture A Bee Swarm

In just my first week of beekeeping, I received my first swarm. It was right in my Pin Oak tree in the front yard! What a great learning opportunity for me as a new beekeeper.

At first I was scared to try this. What if I failed? What if I lost the whole hive?

But after much encouragement, I pulled up my big girl panties and just went for it. 

I found that capturing bee swarms is quite an enjoyable event. I quickly learned to capture bee swarms. It’s fun. It’s a way to get close to bees and really study them. I found myself just watching them in awe as they discharged the swarm and made their way into the hive.

Watching and learning from bees will help anyone become a better beekeeper. Better beekeeping will help to keep bees sustainable for the future of beekeeping and honey production.

~ Much Love ~

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