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Two questions? Swarm wanted


Before I finish, I will have a well built top-bar hive, a hand-made suit with gloves and everything I need except BEES for about $100. What can I say - I know how to do stuff. However, I am VERY glad for this forum and my classes to make sure I don’t just have a hive full of dead bees. I got classes by barter. I bought “The Bee Keeper’s Handbook” for the class and I just ordered “Top-Bar Beekeeping”. For fun, I got a borescope (endescope) from eBay for $22. I plan to use it to inspect the hive through small holes with little disturbance to the bees AND make a few videos.

Now I need a swarm. All the instructions say I would have to spend more money to get special supplies to trap the swarm so I can bring it home and put it into my top-bar hive. Why can’t I simply use my hive w/o the bars with the entrances/exits blocked. It has VERY good ventilation with 1/8" hardware cloth covering holes at the top and across the open bottom. My plan is to simply place the combs, making sure it includes the queen, into the hive “box” to transport them to their new home. When I get there, I smoke them, locate the comb with the queen and use a stitching awl with waxed twine to gently sew through the top of the comb. Then I support the comb as close to the bottom of the third bars as possible and repeat for one or two combs on 2 and 4 for the brood. I’ve heard the bees repair damaged combs, so I would expect them to make the attachment to the top bar quickly. My partition would stay in place for the short time it takes them to start the brood.

Does this plan sound like I can pull it off and stay CHEAP?

What are some ways to find a swarm?



Matt’s talked about this a bit elsewhere, but to get a swarm you can do one of two things (or both, of course.)

The first is to put your name out on any lists you can find online, such as a local beekeeper’s association web site, as being willing to come get swarms. Word of mouth is great, too–put the word out to all of your friends and acquaintences. A few years ago there was a swarm at my father-in-law’s house. We knew we were seeing something special but didn’t know what to do with it! :lol: My FIL located someone to come get it by talking to my wife’s beautician, who seems to know most of what’s going on in the area. (That’s part from gossip at the shop and part from being the local volunteer fire department’s fire chief and an EMT. She’s busy!)

All you need to do this is a cardboard box and your bee suit, possibly a ladder. In simplist terms, you hold the box under the swarm, shake the branch to get the swarm to drop off into the box (or brush it in, or cut the branch off the tree and put it in with the bees. You then take them to your hive and shake them from the box into your hive. There’s a bit more to it than that, including making sure you have the queen, but not much more.

Another way is, as you’ve mentioned, through “traps” and lures. From my research I’ve found that you can make a trap fairly cheaply from scrap. It’s suggested that you use lemongrass oil as a lure, or to buy a lure from a beekeeper supplier. Matt tells me that we can simply set out our hives and put the lemongrass oil inside and wait to see if we get a swarm attracted to it. The advantage there is no work involved! I may also build a couple of traps from scrap wood. Some people build mini-hives complete with top-bars or frames so that they don’t have to worry about moving the swarm out of the trap and into a hive before they start making comb.

What you’ve described in your post sounds more like doing what is referred to as a “cut-out”, where you are not getting a swarm but removing an established feral hive from one location to your hive. A swarm that is looking for a place to set up a hive will not have created comb. If they have comb, it’s likely inside a tree or a wall or somewhere else where you’ll need to “cut out” the side to get to the comb. There are beekeepers who do this for a fee, but it’s considered more dangerous than collecting a swarm as a swarm tends to be docile. The bees don’t have a hive or honey to protect, you see, whereas if you’re doing a cutout you’re invading and damaging their hive which will result in defensive moves against you.

Wow, it looks like I’ve learned a lot through my reading in the past few weeks! :D




Hey, DrD,

I saw your posts over on Beesource about the cutout you collected for your hive. Looks like you got a few good suggestions. Worst-case, if the bees leave or die, you now have a hive that will be a bit more attractive to your next round of bees. Good luck!


P.S. For those that are interested, here’s the link to the thread. Today was my first time perusing Beesource and I registered but haven’t posted yet.