A touch of the contrary ..or just plain serendipity


Last year I was on the swarm list so I had a ‘kit’ to hand.  When my turn came, the HWBKA swarm officer delivered the swarm to me so I did very little.  Incidentally beekeepers, if you are on a swarm list do have the hive and frames prepared.

This year I decided against having a swarm – thought I’d order a nuc and play it safe with various diseases around and now having 2 colonies to protect at home.  (Yes, some beekeepers will sneer with superiority at my very small scale operation).  Then on Sunday a swarm appeared at our local NT Hughenden Manor.  they phoned the local swarm officer with no success and I was the only person they did manage to contact – so there I was leading on a swarm collection.  Luckily I am lazy – so some of my swarm kit was in the car from last year.  And I carry some ‘interesting’ bits for when we have a meet the beekeepers session at our Hughenden Manor apiary – so I was not totally unprepared.  Nevertheless, a suggested ‘swarm collection kit’ and some hints and tips may be useful so I’ll start one off.

Trying to set up the nuc box as a bait hive

Trying to set up the nuc box as a bait hive

Firstly, a tip or two.  The secateurs that may be very useful if the swarm is on a branch can make a bee sized hole in your bee suit.  A small back pack for some of the items might avoid this problem.  If you have a hive strap, make sure you know how it secures – practise.  In case you need to drive in full kit, it is better to have the sort of hood that allows you to look over your shoulder.

They seem to be happily climbing up...

They seem to be happily climbing up…

The kit:

  • Strong box (wine box?) and / or skip.   Even better if there is a spare hive to hand.
  • String, secateurs, hand saw/sheet(s), old comb /frames and possibly swarm lure or lemon grass oil.
  • Ladder (though I avoid high sites and prefer a beer crate as a step/emergency base for hive)
  • Some fabric that can block an entrance – and/or if you are using a hive, travel screen, hive strap.
  • Sheet / old curtain or two.  Might be good to have a fabric tie at each corner.
  • Spray bottle of water.
  • protective wear – full kit.
  • Strong branch or prop in case you need to support a branch.  At the first Hughenden swarm I went to with Keith, he used some of those sponge like ties – they are about half a metre in length. must be something like metal covered wire and you can twist them to anchor things together – ladder to tree, prop to tree etc….
  • Anyone like to share what they’d add to a swarm list?
  • There is a bee vac described here – search for bee vac – as a guest you can only see a few posts but registering is free- that must be the pinnacle of swarm collection luxury.
  • This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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About apiarylandlord

Definitely past it - whatever it was - I may have blinked and missed it. New to beekeeping and totally entranced by the experience. That is probably all you need to know until I work out how secure this blog is. Great fan of recycling - see ilovefreegle.org to find your local group. Save things from landfill. Pass on your surplus, locally, for free or ask for things you need in case you can have someone's cast off again for free.
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