Wild Swarm

Sunday afternoon on the way home from church, I got a message from a friend and law enforcement officer asking if I ever catch wild swarms. He had spotted one in the parking lot of a furniture store in Austin and was worried it would end up getting sprayed when the business opened the next day. As soon as we got home, we grabbed a few tools and an empty hive box and headed there to see if we could catch it.

It was a tiny swarm, with maybe 500 bees (compared to a swarm I caught from one of my own hives a few years ago). I trimmed away some little stems from around it so I could reach the main branch. With an empty hive box under the tree, Hial held the branch while I slowly cut through it with my loppers.

 

Most of the bees stayed in the cluster and we placed it in the box, then strapped it closed with a moving screen in the entrance.

When we got home, we put them on a stand I’d already built and left them for the night.

Monday afternoon, I prepared another hive box with several frames of drawn comb and a feeder. Then I took a frame of capped brood from another hive and added it. The ready-to-use comb with a feeder of sugar water encourages them to stay, but even better is a frame of unhatched bees. That makes them feel at home and will boost their numbers in a few days when those bees begin to hatch out of their cells.

IMG_4261

Donor brood from another hive.

I had planned to set the new box on the one they were in and let them crawl up, but when I removed the lid, they were clustered on the underside. New plan… Instead I removed the box with the branch and set the new box in its place, then gently tapped the lid over the frames to shake the bees down.

Almost as soon as they were in the hive, several bees started flying around orienting themselves to their new homes and one even flew straight out to a flowering weed near the hive, checked it out, and flew back to the hive.

Tuesday morning I walked out to see what activity was going on and bees were flying in with pollen, which means they’ve decided to stay and I’ve successfully hived a swarm.

Other than treating them for Varroa mites Wednesday morning, which can be done with little disruption, I’ll wait a week before checking on their progress. At that point I’ll know if they had a mated queen with them or not. Also, I placed them farther from the house and garden than other hives because I don’t know what their demeanor will be for a few weeks. Hial said maybe I’ll be lucky and it’s a swarm from Round Rock Honey, which has hives in the area

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