Bee swarm removal; Moving an established bee swarm

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Posted by admin | Posted in Beekeeping, Bees, General, swarming | Posted on 07-10-2012

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Bee swarm removal – an established swarm

Today was one of those picture perfect Autumnal days that are just a joy to be outside. Therefore it was the perfect day to try and move some bees – though late in the year, this was not just any old bee swarm but an established nest with combs to boot. It is not often that I will call in help and I tend to try to muddle on myself and making my own mistakes – which of course helps me learn. Bee swarm removal that has been in situ for 10-12 weeks however needs careful planning and thought.

I was very lucky therefore to call upon some lovely local beekeepers (the lovely couple who had found the swarm were colleagues of my father) Julie and Robin who were more than willing to help this tricky manoeuvre.

Usually I am used to seeing a bee swarm and usually their removal is pretty straight forward, however this bee swarm was about 8ft up under the apex of a shed – therefore a little bit more tricky and especially considering they had 3-4 visible combs already formed. I have seen this done myself but never actually completed the action of tying in comb to a frame. Julie and Robin had done it plenty of times before and therefore were perfect to call in on the act. Today couldn’t have been better in terms of weather. If you don’t want to read about it you can see various photos below which give you a fair idea. Beneath the photos are some action points and also a video of tying in the bees which I thought might be interesting.

Photos of Bee swarm Removal

Bee Swarm Removal:

  1. We got all our equipment ready for this bee swarm removal which included knives ready to cut away the established comb, a sugar spray solution (so much better than smoke on this occassion to keep the bees calm) and also a seed tray to hold beneath the bees as we cut away the comb.
  2. We then prepared the frames. You will see from the photos, we cut away a proportion of the wax foundation from previously made up frames. This was to give them something to work on (once they had been transferred it was fascinating to see them “working” this foundation immediately. We also used drawing pins and string to create a web on one side of the frame to hold the removed comb – we would then connect up the other side when it was in place. This was to keep the comb in situ while the bees built out on the sides to connect the comb to the edges. Once this is done they will dispose of the string outside the hive and perhaps this is one reason why to use string over elastic bands – which is quicker in the set up but perhaps a little move fiddly when manoeuvring into position and is harder for the bees to dispose of
  3. We then prepared an area to do the above work – a compost bin with plank of wood on top!
  4. We put some fondant into the side feeder of the nuc box ready for them to feed on immediately to give them a chance of surviving the winter.
  5. We assigned jobs among ourselves for the complete bee swarm removal so that we were prepared and then got on with it
All in all it went exactly as we had hoped it would and the bees were remarkably calm considering what we were doing. The sugar solution worked brilliantly and calmed them instantly. We found the queen and put her in a cage – brilliantly spotted by Ray, the owner of the property who joined in the enjoyable job of this bee swarm removal.

Video of a bee swarm removal:

After they were safely ensconced in the hive we built a small platform to put the nucleus box near enough 3ft from the position of the original nest so that any stragglers would find their way into the hive. Within 10 minutes of putting the nucleus box in situ we could see signs of the bees fanning outside the entrance and thus spreading the pheromones to tell all the others were to come – a lovely and almost magical site to see.
In conclusion, should you be considering removing an established bee swarm I would simply say preparation is the key and definitely ask for some help but it is a really interesting bee swarm removal to undertake and one I would wholeheartedly recommend trying a few times should you get the opportunity. My thanks to Robin and Julie who were a fabulous help and a joy to talk to. Also big thanks to Ray and Lesley whose garden we took over for most of the morning – I hope they enjoyed the experience. 
Should you want help in removing a swarm of bees in Surrey please do call me to see if I could help on 01306 631 117

 

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