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Who ya gonna call? Swarm Catchers!

Hello Beekeepers! Well here we are in April, and it's been an early spring here in Howard County... so much so that we have already received calls and contacts about swarms being spotted. If you're in your second year or more of beekeeping, you might want to try catching a swarm this season to start a new colony with 'free bees'. In this post, I'll outline some of the things I have gathered to be ready to catch swarms at a moment's notice. If you want to join the Swarm Catchers, you'll want to consider having these things ready to go, too.

Important Note: If you've never caught a swarm or observed/helped with catching a swarm before, it is HIGHLY recommended that you go with an experienced swarm catcher a time or two before you go it alone.

Swarm Catcher Must-Haves:

  • Bee Suit with Veil: Don't try to catch a swarm without proper gear!

  • Nuc box or full-size box (Medium or Deep, depending on what you are using.)

    • Fill with one honey frame or drawn comb frame, and the remaining with empty foundation frames. The honey or drawn comb frame is to encourage the bees to stay but is not necessary.

    • Don't forget the bottom board, inner cover, and outer cover if you're using full-size equipment!

  • Sharp Knife and Pruners to cut limbs and foliage away to access the swarm. Lucky you if the swarm is on one limb for you to clip and carry to your box!

  • Entrance Closure to button things up.

    • Duct Tape will help to do this nicely - and could come in quite helpful for other things, too!

  • Ratchet strap or bungee cords to secure the boxed swarm for transport.

Swarm Catcher Nice to Haves:

  • Hand Saw for those larger tree and bush limbs.

  • Ladder and/or step stool to catch those swarms that alight high up.

    • Swarm Catcher, know thyself... don't attempt to climb a ladder without a helper, and don't try to go beyond your comfort level!!

  • Wheeled Cart to put the box in before you catch the swarm so you can easily move them to your transport vehicle or apiary.

  • White sheets to spread under the box and cart to make the bees easier to see.

    • It also keeps the bees from getting 'lost' in the grass.

  • Caution tape or signage is helpful to prevent others from disturbing the bees if you need to leave them in place overnight or give them time to go into the box.

What gear do you have in your Swarm Catching kit? Let us know by posting a comment!

Good luck with your bee rescue missions!

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