Swarming of bees refers to their biological process that bees use to grow their species. Wild swarms are bees that have been brooded under natural conditions in their indigenous conditions. Once a colony of bees becomes large enough, they tend to split into two or more parts to prevent overcrowding. Worker bees fill their stomachs with honey and relocate with their queen after she has laid eggs. This is where they are referred to as a swarm because they don’t have a home and cease to be a swarm when they stay in their new comb for more than a week.
Since the swarm of bees is a temporary state, the beekeeper will have to act fast so that he/she can be able to catch them. Swarms are mostly docile compared to their counterparts with colonies who tend to be defensive about their homes, honey, and brood. But, either way, make sure to take safety precautions like wearing your bee suit, where necessary use a smoker.
Until the swarm finds a new area to set up their colony, they rest on a limb of a tree when queen bee needs a break from flying from one hour up to a day in length. While scout bees are searching miles of land for a place to set up their new hive. When they are on the branch, the swarm festoon which refers to the bees hanging on to each other’s arms and legs also attach themselves to the tree limb. This practice makes it easier for the beekeeper to transfer the swarm from the branch onto the box/container of choice.
A container must be large enough to accommodate the swarm, size can range from something small like a baseball to big like a basketball hoop. A ladder together with a light container is used if a swarm is on a branch high up on the tree. Put the container/box just below the swarm, spray bees with sugar water that makes it hard for them to fly off for a few minutes but doesn’t harm them. Shake tree limb which all are on, they will all go in if you do it right, be careful not to harm the queen bee. Close container or box immediately because bees love their dark surroundings and so they are not able to escape. Being fast will be key if you are using a temporary vessel to transfer the bees from the branch to their permanent hive.
Another method of catching the wild bee swarm is scooping. Key to this method working is that the queen bee is moved into the container/box, if she doesn’t then other bees will leave the collecting vessel to follow her. Carefully scoop a handful of bees and putting them into a box/container of choice, fact that bees festoon makes this easy.
Last method is letting the bees come to you by using laws of attraction by using bait hives that scout bees can discover. Use boxes approximately 40 liters in size, should have frames inside that mimic a permanent hive that you’ll move the bees to a preferred location. Coat the inside of the boxes with lemongrass essential oil which has a similar smell to their pheromones and propolis which is a bee resin. These fragrances should be placed in a slow-release tube so as not to overwhelm the bees. Help scout bees discover the box by setting it up 10-15 feet up on a tree that is preferably at the edge of the woods, in full shade but still visible to scout bees.
Place your boxes at the beginning of early spring when flowers start to bloom and check them every two weeks. Once the swarm moves in, close the hive entrance with wire mesh at night and relocate it to where you want the permanent hive to be. This hive will need to remain closed for 1-2 days so that bees forget about the home on the tree branch. Do not disturb the hive for about a week so that the bees have ample time to build comb and start brooding, otherwise, bee colony will leave the hive. To prevent bees from absconding the hive, make sure you use a queen excluder over the entrance and use a hive that resembles one that bees have lived in before so it feels like home.