The thought of catching a swarm of honey bees can be a little overwhelming, but it’s probably not a scary as you thought. It’s especially easy if you’re me, and stand back watching and filming while your husband does all of the work!
Why do bees swarm?
It’s very common for bees to swarm, meaning they leave their hive and start a new one. In fact, it’s crucial to their survival. When a colony becomes overpopulated, supplies become scarce and the bees become unhealthy. To avoid overcrowding, half of the colony will choose to separate and start a new colony. This is their way of reproducing, and is totally normal.
What to do When Bees Swarm
If catching a swarm of bees is totally not your thing, reach out to a beekeeper in your area and let them know that a hive has swarmed. Most beekeepers will gladly come catch the swarm in order to provide them with a new home.
If you’re like me and don’t want to mess with bees, but want them on your farm and can eat your own body weight in honey, sweet talk your husband into catching them for you!
The most important aspect of catching the swarm, is making sure that you capture the queen. If you don’t have her, the rest of the bees will simply leave the hive you provide them and return to her. We did this by gathering the largest cluster of bees in a 5 gallon bucket, then leaving the bucket on the ground nearby to see if:
- The bees flew back out of the bucket, which would mean that the queen had not been collected, or
- The uncollected bees went into the bucket to follow their queen.
We were lucky enough to get her, and the whole process was pretty quick.
The Right Tools
I highly recommend doing your research. Your local Cooperative Extension or Agricultural office is a great place to start. They will be able to put you in contact with beekeepers in your area who, in my experience, are always willing to answer questions and help you get started.
Once you’re ready to catch a swarm of your own, it’s important to have the right tools to catch and care for the bees without causing them too much trauma. There are some great starter kits available, such as this one, but you can also get the job done with a hood, gloves, and simple hive tool.
We are most certainly beekeeping amateurs, but there’s no better way to learn than just by jumping in and doing it!
Check out the video below to tag along as we show how we caught a swarm of honeybees to bring back to the farm.