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2009/07/05

How to catch a swarm

My older hive is at my Mom's place in the country where she has room and neighbors who are not terrified of anything with 6 legs. Right before I decided to get into bee keeping, she had a swarm fly through. This was about 4 months ago. Seems there is a feral hive nearby, it spawned off another swarm last Thursday.
My Mom called and told me so I scrambled into action! Begged a Nuc (half size temp hive) from my bee mentor, grabbed him and we headed down to get the swarm.
We get to my Mom's around 7:30, it was getting dark so we have to work fast. The bees have settled around the trunk and lower branches of a tree. They are a few fee off the ground. Rats, cannot shake the tree to get them off. Need to do something different. My mentor suggested that that I brush off the bees with my gloved hands as he holds the Nuc below the main body. So in I went, slowly pushing my hands into the mass of bees and pushing them off the tree into the Nuc. They were not happy at this, lots took to flying immediately. Lots fell onto the ground at the base of the tree. My mentor put the Nuc off to the side of the tree and started to spray 'Bee Quick' which is a spray that covers and masks the pheromones the bees put into the tree. Otherwise some of them would go back to the tree. While he was doing this, I was using my bee brush to brush the remaining bees in the tree onto the ground.
Remember how I said I scrambled? Well, I forgot to change out of my work shoes. They are low loafers. Usually I wear leather boots. Not this time. I looked down and I could see bees all over the ground... Now when it's dark bees like to crawl up things. They were on my shoes crawling up my pants leg. I was wearing jeans with rubber bands around my ankles. They were going to crawl up my pants!! I quickly stepped back, brushed the bees off my shoes/socks/pants, and got back to work brushing them off of the tree.
After about 10 minutes of this, the tree was clear and there was a mass of bees on the ground and the sides of the Nuc. We could see bees 'fanning' on the entrance of the Nuc, fanning the pheromones of the queen into the air. This acts like a 'Come here now!' call so the bees know where to go.
We stepped back and brushed off the dozens of bees left on us. After that, we walked back to the house and into the light. There we inspected each other to remove any stragglers and seems ok. So off came the suits and gloves.
Somehow one little straggler decided to sneak up my pants leg. I felt her buzzing, but I did not have a chance to do anything before she got me. Ouch!
We went back after 20 minutes to check on the Nuc. The majority of the bees had moved into the Nuc, so I slid the lid closed and called it a good night!

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