Bees are considered one of the fascinating creatures on earth. They often live in colonies and hives. Bees work hard and stay loyal to their colonies. They work together in search of food, find nectar, produce honey and beeswax from it. They protect their hives, honey, and the queen bee. Bees have a highly systematic life. If you live in a suburban or countryside, you will often have an encounter with beehives. You will often get the chance to see them.
Like all other creatures, bees also go through some specific developments. One of such processes is swarming, which is described in the paragraph below.
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Swarming is considered one of the natural sources of reproduction in honey bee colonies. In this process, bees divide one colony into two or even more than two colonies. The process of swarming is considered a normal practice during the springtime. However, bees may also swarm if the need arises throughout the year. But they avoid it during the rainy season.
The hives prepare for the swarming throughout the year. During the swarming season, the queen starts laying eggs inside the queen cup. The swarming begins when the queen cells start capping before the new virgin queens come out of their cells.
The workers stop feeding the existing queen before the new queens start capping because her weight is too much that it would be hard for her to fly long. Moreover, when the anticipated swarming date is near, the queen also stops laying eggs. Along with the swarming, bees also process cast swarms.
Cast swarm is the smaller version of bee swarming. This is carried on in smaller parts. In cast swarms, bees form colonies with a virgin queen. The reason behind bees forming cast swarms is to have a brand new colony where almost all the bees are newborn.
Why Do Bees Swarm?
After you know about swarming, you might wonder what might be the reason behind such practice. Bees normally have two reasons behind swarming. First, the bees swarm when they feel that the existing hive is getting overcrowded and there is not enough space for the upcoming generation. However, suppose the hive is not overcrowded, and the bees still choose to swarm. In that case, such swarming reasons are the lack of food and water, a disease, parasite, weather conditions, animals or humans frequently disturbing them, poor ventilation or the queen has her issues.
If the bees face any of the problems described above, they will start swarming, or sometimes, in an extreme situation, they might even abandon their existing hive. Moreover, the decision to swarm is always a collective decision that happens among the worker bees. The queen is not responsible for deciding such things.
How to Catch Bee Swarms from a Tree?
Catching a bee swarm can be a real challenge for beekeepers. It is not possible unless you have the proper expertise and the required material. If you have none, it is better to stay away from such tasks; otherwise, you may be in trouble.
Items Required for Catching Swarms
Having the needed items for catching swarms is highly essential because, without these items, the catch is not possible. So, the main tools that you need for this purpose are a beekeeper suit and a container. The beekeeper suit is just for protection, usually the bees in a swarm are not aggressive, but you never know and it is better to be protected. The container is used for putting the swarm in. While selecting a container for yourself, make sure you get the right size. The size of the container should always match the size of the swarm.
The container used for swarming can include a bucket, nuc box, cardboard box, empty bee hive, or a container made of plastic. Moreover, you can also use a flow hive, but you should be an expert if you want to transfer the swarm into a flow hive directly.
Sometimes, you may also need a ladder if the swarm has landed on the higher portion of a tree. But the need for a ladder might vary. Additionally, a plant clipper may also help in some circumstances, especially if the swarm has landed deep in the shrubs. So, it is better to go prepared.
The process of catching the bee swarms has three major methods, and following all three of them will give you an easy catch. If the bees are hanging in the comparatively smaller branch of a tree, then you should slowly lower the branch, fit the swarm into the container. Additionally, you can also just cut the tree branch containing the swarm and then slowly place it inside your container. While doing both, make sure you put the swarm first and then the frame. Otherwise, the bees may start flying.
The second method involves shaking. This is recommended if the swarm is laded in the upper portion of the tree, where it is hard for you to get. In such situations, getting the swarm without shaking the tree is nearly impossible. If you start shaking the tree or the branch, the bee might start flying in confusion. Some may even come again at the same branch. And then, you should start collecting the bees and regrouping them into your box.
Finally, the last option available is to scoop the bees. The scooping can be done using your hands. However, this method is only recommended if you are unable to apply both the above-mentioned methods.
Make Sure to Get the Queen Bee
The queen bee is considered the most important part of a beehive and, ultimately, the swarm. No matter which one of the methods mentioned above you use to catch a swarm, it is important always to check the queen bee. Catching a bee swarm without getting the queen will make all your efforts go in vain.
If you get the queen, there is a good chance that the other bees will follow the direction and get inside the box themselves. However, the situation may also happen vice versa sometimes, i.e., when the bees are inside the box, and the queen bee is left with nothing but to surrender and join other bees in the box.
Tricks for an Easy Catch
Everything in the world is accompanied by few tricks that might help get things done easier and better. The first recommended trick is to spray the swarm using sugar water or just water. However, make sure you don’t spray them heavily; just a light pressure will help. The spray will prevent the bees from flying higher, and you will catch them easily.
The second trick involves smoke. It is also recommended to use smoke for herding bees into the box. Moreover, some attractive smells may also help in catching the bees. All of these tricks are proved to be very helpful.
So, if you want to make your catch convenient, easy, and simple, make sure to go prepared. Don’t forget your equipment and all the required material. Additionally, don’t hesitate to follow the tricks mentioned above. All of them will make your catch extremely easy.
And if it is your first catch, make sure to go with an expert. It is better to learn first and then start doing. Because unless you know how to do it, you have more chances of getting stung or injured in the process.