I keep honey bees in Reading, Bernville, and Fleetwood, PA without treatments. I love to garden and observe Wasps, Bumble bees, and ants. I also raise mealworms for my Eastern Spotted turtle and myself.
Today, I employed three different techniques to collect swarms on a miserably windy, chilly, and rainy day. The first was the “Set it, and forget it”, because it was close to home. I just sat the nucleus box right up against the swarm cluster and left the bees to slowly crawl in. I’ll pick them up tomorrow night.
With the second swarm (further from home), I used a bucket, and bumped the majority of the bees into it. Then I slipped a filter bag over the bucket and snapped the ring lid on. Once all the stragglers flew into the top, I cinched the slack up over the top of the bucket and closed it with a rubber band. This is much easier on the bees, as there are no frames swinging around and shifting on the bumpy ride home. Once I got home, I dumped the bees into a hive and opened the filter bag to release the stragglers.
The third swarm was just out of reach, in a tree, so I used the “Bucket on a Pole” method. A very straight forward and popular way to get a swarm down, but the wind made it interesting.
One thing I’ve learned over the past few years of chasing swarms is to never get tunnel vision on a swarm call. Especially during prime swarm season. Always walk around and look up into the trees and at nearby buildings for a beeline. If you find one, you’ve very likely found the source of your swarm. Then, keep looking around for other swarms that the caller did not see. Below is a video of what started out as a call to remove a single swarm. Then, plans changed. Also, always have more than one swarm box setup in your vehicle. I never leave home without at least 5.
Every March through April the question comes up. “What’s with the red pollen my bees are bringing in?” So I’m writing this post in the hopes that whoever Googles the question will find the answer here. There are several plants that produce red pollen later in the year. But the main plant that produces large amounts of red pollen in spring is purple deadnettle (lamium purpureum). In my area of Pennsylvania, it blooms right after red maple and long before dandelions. Huge blankets of deadnettle grow in farm fields before herbicides are applied, in unmanicured lawns, and along roadsides.