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.
I was invited to speak at the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association in Skippack, Pennsylvania about acquiring swarms. It was my first ever PowerPoint presentation in front of an unfamiliar crowd. I was very nervous for weeks before the event, but after a few minutes, I calmed down and felt pretty good about it afterwards. The next day, an attendee sent me links to videos of myself on YouTube. I didn’t even know anyone was filming! The angle and resolution of the video are a little off at times, but it’s the only copy I know of right now. So here I am, in all my glory:
A lot has happened since my last post. I’ve collected many swarms, and done a few cutouts. Some were fun. Some were no fun at all. I got a call for a swarm in Pottsville, and the newspaper showed up to cover all the excitement. Read the article here.
Two days later, Pottsville called again. About 3 blocks from the previous swarm, at a cemetery, in a tree, about 25 feet up. This one was very challenging, because I was high up in a bucket-truck and it was very windy. And it was raining. Well, the paper was there again waiting for me. Read the article here.