HOW TO KEEP A NEWLY CAUGHT SWARM FROM LEAVING

Posted July 21, 2019
by Hilary

How To Keep A Swarm From Leaving

Swarm catching season is well underway and many of you have been enjoying the thrill of capturing your first swarms. Catching swarms is one of my favorite things in beekeeping, but it can also lead to one of the biggest disappointments: absconding! Too often beekeepers find that their swarm has abandoned the home they tried to provide for them. Read on for tips and tricks you can use to keep your swarm from leaving their hive.

Why Do Swarms Leave?

Swarms are transient. They are on the move and even after they appear to have chosen a location to nest in, they may change their minds. That’s because they have nothing invested in the space. They have no comb, no food stores and no babies. So, there’s nothing keeping them in your hive box. They may decide to leave immediately or within the first few days of you catching them. Luckily, there are some things you can do to minimize this possibility.

Be Gentle With Them

I have a theory that the more gently you handle a swarm, the more likely they are to stay. For that reason I try to be thoughtful about how transfer them to my box. I never vacuum swarms (I believe it is too traumatic) and I try to avoid shaking them. I would rather lower the cluster into my box by clipping the branch they are on or take my time scooping the majority of them and letting the rest march in on their own. Click here to  read more about how to catch a swarm.

Catching Swarm

 

Make Them Think It Was Their Idea

Along these same lines, I sometimes think that swarms take to their new homes better when they feel as though they have chosen it. Often I will place the bees not in the box, but just in front of the entrance to the box. This technique allows them to march in freely. They seem to naturally be drawn to the safety of an enclosed box.

Move Them After Dark

I almost always wait until dusk to move a swarm. It’s not just that I dislike the idea of leaving flying bees behind, but I find that the bees are more likely to abscond when I move them in daylight. I believe the stress of enclosing them in the box during daytime transport motivates them to find an alternative nesting site.

Give Them a Used Box

If there is anything that I have learned from doing bee removal work, it is that bees like to live in places where other bees have lived before. If you use a brand new box to catch a swarm, you miss an opportunity to make your hive more inviting to them. So, whenever possible, place your swarm catch in a used piece of equipment. The scent of beeswax and propolis will motivate the bees to move in and stay put.

Give Them Enough Room

Most swarms are the size of a basketball or a football, but every once in awhile you come across a truly large swarm. When I encounter these giant clusters, I often give them two full-size boxes straightaway so that they do not feel the cavity is too small for them. I have lost some large colonies that I suspect may have left because of the size of the box. That said, most of the time I use a wooden 5-frame nuc box and have success. It should be noted that I have had bad luck using cardboard nuc boxes for swarm catches. They seem to abscond from these much more often.

brood

Give Them Comb or Brood

If you have the resources, you can motivate a swarm to stay in your hive by giving them empty comb. Giving a swarm empty comb is like giving them a furnished apartment, it makes it more appealing. An even better incentive is to add a frame of open brood from another colony.  Although this can sometimes be a logistical challenge, it is a surefire way to keep a swarm in your box. Open brood has strong pheromones and requires care from adult nurse bees. The swarm will not want to abandon the brood, they will adopt it as their own and stay in your hive box to care for it.

Leave Them Alone For a Week

As tempting as it may be, you don’t want to disturb a newly caught swarm. If you try to inspect them too soon, move their location or make changes to their new home in any way, you may prompt them to leave. They should be left completely alone for 1 week. After a week has passed it is safe in inspect them  and make any changes you want because by then, they should have invested in their new home with comb and brood. The one exception to this rule is if you want to give them brood comb. Once you get the swarm home, it is okay to open them to add a frame of brood from another colony, per the above recomendation.

Thoughts On Coercion

Many beekeepers recommend coercive practices after catching a swarm to keep them absconding. Some like to cage the queen, others will place a queen excluder on their entrance and some will lock the swarm in their hive box for several days. I’m sure these practices work most of the time, but I dislike the philosophy behind them and actively discourage people from trying them. Why use force when you can use persuasion? Of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes you get a flighty queen who won’t settle in your box and you don’t have comb or brood to give her. On these occasions, I am sometimes tempted to cage her, but first, I try to find another solution. Maybe a full size hive box will be more appealing than a nuc box? Maybe the entrance is too large and the swarm would prefer it to be reduced? Observing your bees, learning, and experimenting in response to your studies of their behavior is what beekeeping is all about. In my beekeeping practice, I always strive for collaboration between me and my bees. Want to learn more about my beekeeping philosophies? Check out my online beekeeping classes!

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76 Comments

  1. Dr. Abby Campbell

    Thank you for sharing, Hilary. This is my second year of beekeeping, and I had a swarm from one of my strong hives about a month ago. That was a sight to see! ???? Because I don’t have a bee mentor, I was vigorously searching for information on how to capture my swarm. The swarmed colony had landed on a peach tree not even 25 feet from the original hive, so I was pretty lucky. Though I could have cut the swarm out of the tree, I just put an old 8-frame hive box on a solid board on top of a 6-foot ladder underneath the hive. In it, I put 8 frames in which half included old comb. The rest were new frames with starter strips. I then drilled a 1.25-inch hole in the side for entrance. On the inside of the box, I added a small cotton fabric with two drops of lemongrass essential oil. Honestly, I didn’t know if what I did was right or wrong, but I figured I wasn’t losing anything because my bees had already left their home. And, like Michael Bush always says, we only learn by trial and error. Once I left the box, I watched for several days. Scout bees immediately took an interest, but the swarm left after a couple days. I was a bit disappointed but, much to my surly, they returned a week later and filled the box. At least, I think it was my original swarm! ???? I waited a week before moving them back to my apiary. After a day, I traded out the solid bottom board for a screened one and added a screened entrance reducer because the box was heavy with bees. I was afraid they wouldn’t get enough ventilation, especially with the summer heat. A week later, I did an inspection and found the hive to be very healthy and even saw the Queen (which has been difficult for me since beginning beekeeping). At this time, I added another deep with starter strip frames even though I still didn’t see any brood yet. I added a second box because I was afraid this new hive would swarm again with it being so crowded. It’s been almost two weeks, and my bees seem to be doing very well when I go out to check on them. I plan to do another inspection very soon. When would you say that I should start seeing brood and honey?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Hi, you should see brood when you go in again. You may not see honey right away if they are using it all up to build new comb. You might like to check out my second online class if you haven’t already https://girlnextdoorhoney.com/online-classes/

      Reply
      • Dr. Abby Campbell

        Thank you, Hilary. I will definitely check it out. I appreciate you and all your bee knowledge. ????

        Reply
        • Dena Clarke

          Hello, I have a question. I have a swarm given to me after a cutout from a lady’s home. How long should I leave my queen excluder on the bottom board, I was lucky enough to catch my queen as well as marking her. I don’t think they’ll leave at this point. Should I remove the excluder now or wait a few more days? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

          Reply
          • Hilary

            I never use an excluder in that way with cutouts. You probably don’t need it.

          • david hargrove

            I captured a swarm around 10:30 am. I closed them off and placed them in my bee yard. How long should I wait to open the entrance to let them out ?

          • Hilary

            I never close the entrance except when I am moving the hive in a vehicle. The entrance should be opened as soon as you get them to your bee yard.

          • Mary Anne Downey

            Hi,
            I caught a swarm yesterday from one of my own hives and in the evening I closed up the entrance to the nuc, just left the ventilation option open.
            How long can I keep them locked in? I plan to move them tomorrow morning 3 miles away.

          • Hilary

            I only ever lock bees in when I am moving them. When I get them where they are going, I open their entrance.

    • Suzanne H

      Hi Hilary, I caught a swarm about a week and a half ago. When I checked on the after I week they have settled into the hive, building comb, lots of pollen and some honey but I haven’t seen the queen or any brood. Any suggestions?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        It would be too early to see obvious brood. After a week you would likely only see eggs or young larvae. Check again in a week and practice looking for eggs!

        Reply
      • Douglas Crawford

        I have a brick wall in front of my house that has settled over the years and about 3 years ago I noticed a small crack in the brick where it connects to my home and I saw a few bees going in and out of it .I also noticed that the bees looked very clean looking looking ,well there still there and I’m no bee keeper but I love honey and now these bees are looking almost wet like there dripping with honey ..How do I go about getting them into a bix catch box because it’s a very large bee hive now .It’s so cool I think there not bothering me where they are but I know I need to move them there so beautiful and I mean there are dark brown and look like they have done there job in making so sweet honey.I wish I could show you a picture .

        Reply
    • Carol Lawecki

      Hello, I am very new to beekeeping. I found honey bees living in a dead tree in my woods and a few days ago I saw some of the bees swarmed in a nearby tree. I immediately went out and bought a beehive and was able to clip the branch at dusk and put the bees all in the beehive. I wanted to make sure they stayed in their new home, so I was able to get a small piece of comb out of the dead tree where the honey bees were living and put it on one of the frames in my beehive. I’m hoping it is enough to make the bees want to stay. I see the bees flying in and out so I’m hoping they are getting acclimated to their new home. Do you have any other advice? I have a book coming tomorrow on beginner beekeeping. Thank you!

      Reply
    • Linda G

      Hi, Hillary… I love your information here!

      We had a swarm just show up. It’s way too late in the year, but I’m confused about their behavior. We have 2 dead hives in the haymow of our barn, and we didn’t get around to buying new nucs this year, so they’ve been empty since last winter. (they are set up with an access hole through the wall directly to the outside).

      This swarm showed up yesterday afternoon around 5 pm, and quickly clustered on the wall below the hive access hole. By dusk, many of the bees were in the hive, but a large cluster had moved to the south wall of the barn.

      Today, there is regular activity in and out of the hive, but we still have a good sized (several thousand bees) cluster on the barn wall, seemingly completely separate from the ones who have gone into the hive.

      Are they likely missing a queen? The cluster is only about 12 feet away from the hive access…. it’s not possible they can’t find it!

      I’d appreciate any thoughts or insight. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Hilary

        My guess would be that the swarm had two queens and split in two after landing as one.

        Reply
    • Richard F Klein

      My own swarm moved into my empty hive. It has been a week. But they seem listless. Can’t see pollen coming in, and there’re always about a dozen bees milling around in the landing board, seeming listless. Are they queenless?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        The only way to find out is to do an inspection. Sounds like they might be.

        Reply
    • Simon Wakley

      I believe that it is NOT in the bee’s interest to be close to the mother hive. The swarm often lands close to the hive but it make sense for them to move a mile or so away so that they aren’t simply foraging in the parent hives territory. So if I capture one of my swarms I move it to a different place.

      Reply
    • larry

      great article on catching a swarm!
      if you used a used 8 frame box to catch the swarm, why did you drill a 1.25 inch hole in for an entrance?
      I plan on using a wooden nut box as a catch box… with lemongrass oil.
      just wondered about the additional entrance…

      thanks

      Reply
    • Wilson

      Hi, I captured a swarm the other day. Waited until dusk to move the swam in the box to the bee yard. Next day, I opened the box/bucket to start transferring cone and bees but most of the bees except for a small quantity went back to the location where the trap bucket was at(there was a replacement bucket there just in case) do you think there were two queens? One stayed the other left?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        It could be that or if they were in the bucket for too long they may have learned its location and were unwilling to relearn a new location. They went back out of habit.

        Reply
    • Erick Lingueno

      Can anyone help me I just caught a swarm after loosing all my bees over the winter the question that I want to ask is , how long should I wait to split this swarm?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        It depends on how strong the swarm is and how fast they grow.

        Reply
    • Tim Edens

      Hi Hillary,
      I have my first swarm! Pretty excited, to say the least. I have three hives, a new one shoed up while I was working outside. It decided my firepit looked cozy, the moved over to a small trailer tongue. Where there is about 80 yards from my bee yard and almost directly in my backyard. I’m not sure how to move them such a short distance. Can I do this all at once or does it need to be just a couple of feet every couple of days? Thank you.

      Reply
      • Hilary

        Safer to wait a week before attempting to move them and then do so a little at a time in my opinion.

        Reply
  2. Jessica

    Thanks for the article. Definitely a good read for a new beekeeper!

    Reply
    • Elle

      I bought bees with nuc for the first time, the experienced bee keeper settled them in very gently but as soon as she left more than half of the bees left and swarm to the nearby tree. Why this happened and is there any chances they come back to the same hive?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        It’s hard to say what happened here. The beekeeper could have brought you a nuc that had two queens and one left with part of the colony or it could have been something else. I hope you called her to get it sorted.

        Reply
  3. daphnedawn

    While not a beekeeper, I have friends who are and enjoyed your article!

    Reply
    • Amber M

      Great article. We just helped rescue our first swarm last night. Do swarms need to be fed or do you recommend against that?

      Reply
      • Hilary

        They don’t usually need to be fed unless they are on the small side.

        Reply
  4. Partakers

    Well done. I know nothing of Bees or very little and you had analyzing the sleep pattern of bees or wanting to learn more…

    Reply
  5. James L Walls

    Nice article. I’m totally new at bee keeping, and was considering buying my first bees. By luck, while doing yard work a swarm appeared. I had a empty new hive and saturated one box with bee food on the inside. Much to my amazement the bees relocated out of my chimney into the box.

    Reply
    • Jey@age40

      Lucky James. I’m curious, what do you mean by bee food? pollen patty or Honey comb ?

      Reply
  6. Howard Feldman

    I have been keeping bees between relocations for 40 years. I love that you obviously love bees and treat them with the affection, respect and thoughtfulness they deserve. I have been fortunate in my beekeeping friendships and hope to be able to learn from you for a long time.

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Thanks, Howard!

      Reply
  7. Sherry Dillon

    Hi Hilary I was walking around in the yard yesterday and heard some bee’s so just decided to walk towards the sound assumed it was some bees maybe doing some pollinating was interested in what they would be on to maybe find out what it was to be able to plant more of what they was on , but to my surprise the closer I got in the back yard woods there was a swarm up in a cedar tree on the edge of our lagoon so called my mentor and he climbed up and clipped the branch put them in a bucket and we set up another hive and put them in it hopefully they will stay this is my second year I don’t know much I lost my first hive so decided to give it another try and bought two this time so I can compare they are doing good so far so my mentor did say there must be a tree back there with a hive in it I look forward to exploring for it in the next few days it has been raining all morning so I’m hoping this will keep the wild bee in the hive for today my fingers are crossed and my excitement through the Roof.

    Reply
  8. Debbie McKinney

    We just caught a swarm of bees today. They are about 20 feet away from where we might consider housing the permanent hive. Can we move them there immediately before they settle into the box we caught them in? Or do we have to move them a few feet at a time? Also we have a second possible location that’s about 200 feet away. If we decided to move them there what would be the best way to do that?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      On the day that you catch them, wait until nightfall and then move them. They should adjust to the new location even if it is less than 3 miles.

      Reply
  9. Tucker

    Hilary, I’m new to beekeeping and caught a medium-sized swarm from a neighbor’s hive (experienced beekeeper) about 2 months ago. I put them in a new, single deep with RiteCell frames. It’s been pretty healthy, filled up 70% of the deep, and I added another deep to give them room. I’d been feeding them every couple of weeks as well. However, about 2 weeks ago (several days after adding the second deep), my hive swarmed. I was bummed out, checked it a few days after the swarm, fed them again, and it seemed to still be doing well. I saw a single queen cell and assumed that my original queen was weak and was forced out to make room for the new queen. Fast-forward to yesterday, and as I walked by the hive, I almost stepped on ANOTHER small swarm on the ground about 5 feet from the hive. I live in Central Virginia — weather has been crazy (late frosts, hot, now back to another late frost). So, here are a few questions:
    – Should I be concerned about having multiple swarms?
    – When should I check the hive again?
    – What’s the deal with the swarm on the ground? All of my research says that’s quite odd.
    – Is this likely due to weather, mistakes on my end, a combination?
    – Any recommendations?

    Thanks for all of your info!

    Reply
    • Hilary

      It’s not uncommon for a colony to send out more than one swarm if that is what’s happening. Usually though when they are swarming… the brood nest would be very crowded (not 7/10 frames full, but 10/10 full) and there would be multiple queen cells (not just one). It’s possible you have a failing queen and they are superseding her. The swarm on the ground may have been the bees killing the old queen. Was it a very tight cluster?

      Reply
  10. Irene Rozum

    irene73pgh1@verizon.net
    Hi ! I received a small swarm my first ever
    It’s very exciting
    I’ve fed them but there were dead ones in the inch wide doorway
    I don’t want to disturb them by lifting out a frame
    This is day two do you imagine they’re alive ?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      You can always put your ear to the hive and listen for buzzing. It’s normal for there to be some dead bees. If they are alive, you should see some flight traffic in and out of the hive.

      Reply
  11. Danny Johnson

    Danny johnson on july 20, 2020 8:56 pm. Hilary, thanks for your very informative article on handling swarms. I have been beekeeping for about 10 years but am always looking for more information. I was trying to find out how long to wait before inspecting my newest swarm and found it in your article. Thanks for all you do. I love that you treat your bees gently and kind.

    Reply
  12. Chelsea Dudley

    Hello Hilary, I am a complete newbie to beekeeping although I have been doing my best to learn with beekeeper.org. We have a farm and ended up putting a colony in our first brood box from a tree that had fallen and completely exposed the hive (at this time I didn’t even have a suit) we had a friend come over who has extracted colonies like this before, he found the queen but she was injured from the tree falling, this weekend will be the first time I am able to inspect the hive as my suits have just arrived. Now with the suits I ordered a new brood box and super as a ‘just in case’ measure, low and behold, yesterday a swarm settled on the one rose bush in our front yard! I got suited up and the box ready underneath it (locked my kiddos inside the house), then shook them in. I couldn’t find the queen anywhere but I cut the branch off and got the bees off it then threw it in our fire bucket. It seems to have worked! We are only 1 day on now but I’m really hoping this works and it can maybe help the poor bees at our farm as well? Just wanted to share my story with you 🙂

    Reply
    • Hilary

      How exciting. Nice job!

      Reply
  13. Hannah

    Hi Hillary,
    Thanks for sharing! Always looking for new tips and tricks 🙂

    Could you please write a pieces on swarming in general (ie: when to remove swarm cells/ preventing your hive from swarming/ what to do when your hive has already has multiple swarm cells/ etc ).

    Every year I try to prevent my hives from swarming (give them space remove early signs of swarm cells) but inevitably they swarm. It would be great if you could enlighten us with your knowledge on preventing swarms and also what to do if your hive gets to the point where there are already multiple swarm cells in the hive.

    Love your work!

    Reply
  14. Sylvie Oconnell

    Hi Hillary,
    after last year‘s disappointment of losing two hives, probably through the intense heat in my area, I was now lucky enough to catch three other swarms. Only one of them was conveniently hanging on a branch, the other two took several days to vacate from their existing homes. The owners of the tool shed and the log fence both wanted to demolish, so time was of the essence to save the bees. Taking a swarm out of the enclosed roof structure of a shed was definitely challenging. There were so many with established comb, that I would’ve never accomplish this task without a vacuum. While I am sad that I probably lost a lot of bees with that process, I was able to save thousands to a new home. Only one of the three swarms left me. They seemed to have settled into a double super with their existing brood and honey comb just fine, but still left after one week. I am just not sure if I was able to catch the queen with that one. They were deep inside a wood log which in turn was deep in the ground, so between dirt, comb, dust and bees, it was really hard to tell. They took their honey and their brood and went somewhere else. I’m hoping they’re still somewhere on my property because at times it seems like they’re checking out the box again. Fingers crossed, I now have had my other two new swarms for one and two months respectively. During the rainy days now, I have started to feed them to help them out. But I can see that the first and more established one comes home with colorful pollen pants from large flowering adjacent rosemary bushes nearby. Thank you for all your support and input. Your blogs are very helpful. I still go back to your courses to refresh What I have learned. Will keep you posted.

    Reply
  15. darren mcmonigle

    caught swam in swam box with 5 frames in tree 10 feet off ground..how long should i wait to go in and move into 10 frame….and main question is do i have to move miles away first ,then move back to property ….when i take them down an put in 10 frame what do i do then put them back up high again or leave down low an wait till evening,then close up and move at night to new location on same property …should i open in morning or wait one day then open or move to new property 5 miles away………….thanks Red

    Reply
    • Hilary

      If it were me, I would leave them in there up high for a week and then bring them down to the ground leaving them in the nuc. I would wait a few days for them to figure out they are on the ground and then transfer to a 10. Then slowly move to the new location. OR I would close the nuc up at night move totally off property for a week then bring back to new location and transfer a few days later to the 10.

      Reply
  16. Jenn

    I have had bees since 2014 and actually just had my first swarm this weekend. We were a bit frantic to try and capture it but we set up a box of frames (used but with no comb left on them) with an empty box on top and were able to clip the branch the swarm was on and lower them into the box. About 24 hours later there are a lot of bees on the ground in front of the hive and one going into the entrance of the box every few seconds. Should I try to get a frame of honey and brood out of the original hive, brushing the bees off as much as possible, and swap it into this new hive box or just leave them alone?? I’m trying to find the balance between leaving them alone and making sure they have everything they could want to decide to move in 🙂 Maybe I should feed them in the mostly empty top box this evening??

    Reply
    • Hilary

      If you want to keep them from leaving adding brood is the best thing you can do.

      Reply
  17. kathi dunphy

    My bees have swarmed and I was able to gather them up into a new hive that has one frame of drawn comb about half full of capped honey, and the rest are just bare foundation frames. Should I feed sugar syrup ? Also, I placed the new hive at the end of my property which is about 1000 feet from the remaining bees in the original hive. Will that be a problem ?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      I don’t usually feed swarms, but it depends on your climate. The location sounds OK.

      Reply
  18. Chris Fawcett

    Hi Hilary
    I am new to beekeeping and have built a Tanzanian top bar hive but no takers yet.
    My friend lives a 1 km away and yesterday a swarm moved into a biggish bird Nest box that he has up a tree . Can I close up the entrance late at night and put the bird box on top of my hive and open the entrance and then after a week or so try and move them into the top bar hive or do I have to move them far away for a few weeks and then back here. Not sure how to get them into my hive and get them to stay as they may not like it . Can I put the bird box in the bottom of the tb hive for a while and see what happens

    Reply
    • Hilary

      I would move them ASAP, the longer you wait the more comb they will build and that is challenging to attach to tbhs. After you move them to your TBH leave it in place at your friends house for a week before moving it back to your place.

      Reply
  19. Chris Fawcett

    Thanks Hilary , do you mean move it back in case they keep going back there or that there will be lost bees hanging around That I could subsequently try to bring back

    Reply
  20. Chris Fawcett

    Sorry Hilary reading it again you mean leave my tbh at his house close to where the bird box was. When I move it back here will they not revisit their old location

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Yeah they will most likely, but they will probably figure it out after a week or so. I did this one time with a neighbor about that distance.

      Reply
  21. Dorothy

    Sorry I really dont agree with removing a hive that is living in a tree naturally! Catching a hive that is swarming with no obvious new home like an old tree is acceptable. But please allow bees to be bees in the wild. I am convinced to many bee keepers is adding to the stress and decline of our bees

    Reply
  22. David

    Hi Hilary,

    Thank you SO MUCH for an informative interesting site! I’m not sure if I put this in the correct thread, I see there hasn’t been much activity here lately. I did many searches on google about swarms and your site keeps showing up. Thanks for all your efforts, I’ve learned a lot!

    I had a feral swarm move into a winter dead-out hive that was left outside without a bottom board. I had a ground squirrel chew an opening and move into the dead hive in early Spring. He trashed many of the frames and ate quite a lot of honey! Because I didn’t need the hive, I took off the bottom board and left the hive bottom completely open on the stand. (I assumed nearby hives would rob the honey that was left, which they did Mid-Spring) I kind of ignored the hive until A few weeks ago in June, I noticed a lot of activity coming out from the bottom of the hive! I opened the top and found it packed with capped brood, honey, pollen, two deep supers and and a medium were buzzing with activity! I’m so excited to have given a home to a wild colony! (we’ve been keeping two to six hives over the last eight years or so, I’m finally beyond the steep beekeeping learning curve…. maybe!) As environmental stewards, we keep bees for education and fruit pollination.

    Anyway, my question is, do I really need to put a bottom board on the hive, they seem very well situated flying under the stand to gain entrance? I hate to disturb them! Or should I wait until late Fall when I prepare them for winter? (I’m in Wisconsin where we need to close up hives) I’m not interested in their honey, only keeping the hive going and helping them out. Any thoughts or experience would be helpful!

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Hi David, I always encourage experimentation so if you have an inkling I would say go with it. If it were my hive, I would wait 1 week and then go in and mess with them. I would add a bottom board and clean out any comb that’s not salvageable so they have space to build fresh comb.

      Reply
  23. Jason

    Hi, i caught a swarm of bees of a little 4 foot new gum tree, the strata was going to kill them, so i bought a 8 frame box. And saved them they were like a basketball on the plant. There all in the box but really quiet and none of the bees are coming out yet its been 6 hrs is this normal? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Hi Jason, I see swarms do that sometimes. As long as they come out tomorrow, I would not be too worried. It could be a sign they need sugar water to build comb. Doesn’t hurt to give them some.

      Reply
  24. Whitney

    Hi Hilary

    I caught a swarm on April 30th its now May 9. Put them in a hive box 8 frames (all I had) with some comb frames I had saved. They are still there are seem happy. The swarm was up by the house and I want to move then down to the bee apiary area, I would do it at dust but just looking to see if that is okay. Is it okay to move them less then a few miles away? When I move them I was going to give them some brood and honey from one of my other hives. Thank you!
    Whitney

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Now that it has been a week or so your bees have learned their location. If you move them less than 3 miles, you will have issues with the foragers returning to the old location. They may get lost and may not be able to find the new location. You have to move them 3 ft at a time or over 3 miles away.

      Reply
  25. Hanja

    Hi Hilary,
    We started a hive last year and this spring they swarmed.We did not have an extra hive so immediately ordered one.We caught the swarm and had them in a box for a few days and then they swarmed again.I was able to lure the bees back into a larger box .We closed it up and drilled small holes
    for ventilation and a larger hole on top and placed the feeder over that.It has been 2 days now and they are buzzing away in there,but I do have concerns about locking them up.Is this ok for a few days?The new hive will be here in 4 days.And what is the best approach after getting the new hive?

    Reply
    • Hilary

      I have never locked up a swarm in this way so it is hard for me to advise!

      Reply
  26. Fred

    Hi Hillary, I love your blog as it’s the best I’ve come across! When I came back from vacation, I noticed honeybees all over my lawn collecting pollen from the bahiagrass that had went to flower/seed. While I was away every other plant is either dead or struggling from the drought here in N Florida. At my father’s home, we built a Warre hive last month. My intent was to wait to buy swarm from a nearby apiary next spring, but after seeing the sheer number of bees everywhere, I figured I would try to ‘lure’ them to the new location with some honey and water syrup. Is it worth a shot, or should I wait to purchase the bees in the early spring? Thank you again as I’m sure you will know what to do!

    Reply
    • Hilary

      In your climate, it might be worth a shot.

      Reply
  27. Christian Baril

    New to beekeeping, I am just building Layens hives as we speak. Well not RIGHT now… 😉 You get what i am saying haha..

    I see many people ordering Australian queens to start. I am following the advice of Dr. Leo Sharashkin who say it is better to catch local swarm as they are native of your area. Now i live near Rimouski Quebec and it is fairly north. We do have bees of course but our summer here is very short.

    How likely is it to catch a swarm in more northern climate? However my main question is, Why use a swarm box? Cant i just put propilis and lemongrass oil in my hives so they just go in there instead of using swarm box? Seems a bit counterintuitive to attract them in a small box to move then into a largely bigger one haha!

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Hilary

      Hi, I have an article called ‘How to Lure a Swarm’ that talks about this.

      Reply
    • Vic Z

      Greetings,
      I recently caught a nice sized swarm and hived them in a small super. They seem to be thriving. I am wondering what sized box I should supplement the original with, and whether excluders should be used?

      Reply

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My name is Hilary Kearney. I’m the author of the book, “Queenspotting” and founder of the urban beekeeping business Girl Next Door Honey in San Diego, California. I’m an artist turned beekeeper on a mission to help new beekeepers succeed and educate the public about the magic of bees!

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