The best way to catch a swarm – recommendation from an skilled beekeeper, Roger Patterson

The best way to catch a swarm – recommendation from an skilled beekeeper, Roger Patterson

Just a few weeks in the past I listened right into a zoom discuss all about swarms by Roger Patterson. I final heard Roger communicate in individual nearly a decade in the past, again in 2012, when his discuss was “Enhance your bees and beekeeping – merely”. I feel he is some of the well-known beekeepers right here, as he does so many talks and may be very energetic within the beekeeping group. He has additionally written a ebook, known as ‘Beekeeping – A Sensible Information’ (2012).

Roger started by saying that swarms have modified:

Pre Nineteen Nineties, they was dependable:

– Massive prime swarms had fertile queens (except there had been a beekeeper error)
– You can chuck it in a hive
– No must feed
– Add 1-2 supers if early within the season, 1 if later
– Go away it alone
– Typically gave you a honey crop

However now:

  • Might be as they’re presupposed to be
  • However extra usually discover giant swarms have a virgin or failing queen
  • A lot of small swarms with a failing fertile queen
  • Fertile queens usually quickly fail, supersede or disappear
  • They then swarm on emergency or supersedure cells
  • Quite a bit riddled with varroa

I used to be on this as I’ve had loads of queen issues myself after doing splits or capturing swarms. Like Roger says, usually the brand new queens appear to vanish.

Roger then went on to speak about good swarms – these he thinks:

  • Have a mixture of ages
  • Way more younger bees than normally thought
  • Fertile queens lay inside a day of the swarm settling into their new house

He’s a fan of swarms and thinks they make an ideal studying expertise for inexperienced persons.

About being a swarm collector

Most associations have an inventory of swarm collectors, which can be managed by a neighborhood swarm co-ordinator. This isn’t a straightforward job, as all of the calls come without delay. Should you go on the listing, it’s a service to most people. Please commit your self for the summer season (not simply acquire sufficient swarms for your self). You additionally have to be competent.

Earlier than occurring the swarm assortment listing, you must absolutely perceive the swarming course of and have expertise of gathering swarms. Additionally study wasps, hornets, bumblebees, solitary bees, hover flies (all of the issues the general public mistake for honey bees). You’re coping with non-beekeepers. They might want persistence and understanding, however most are on our aspect.

Have equipment prepared x2

Smoker, gasoline, matches/lighter, hive instrument, a number of queen cages, clipping/marking equipment, secateurs, spare veil for onlookers, bee proof container (eg skeptic, or poly nuc, or powerful cardboard field). You additionally want a sack, fabric or sheet. Be certain it hasn’t received a gap and is breathable. Some outdated, dry brood comb can be useful, as a swarm in a thick hedge will usually climb up onto an outdated brood comb.

When the decision comes

  • Ask the place the individual lives
  • How lengthy have the bees been there?
  • Did you see them arrive? (If sure – good signal)
  • The place are they? (Keep away from cavity partitions or within the floor. Fowl field more likely to be bumbles)
  • What measurement – soccer, rugby or tennis ball?
  • How excessive? Relate to one thing like a window or gutter
  • Ask if another beekeepers have been known as, and if one lives close by
  • Is a ladder wanted – and have they received one?
  • Give them your cellular quantity and ask them to name if the swarm leaves
  • Take their quantity

Whenever you arrive

Individuals who have discovered a swarm may be very completely different. Some are frightened or allergic. Some get too shut. They are often useful, troublesome and all the things in-between. We’re ambassadors – diplomacy could also be wanted! Do not trigger injury. Go away all the things tidy and say thanks.

If the placement is simply too troublesome to gather from, say so. Be calm – you will have a number of observers – but it surely’s not bomb disposal! Verify your BBKA insurance coverage, ensure you know what you’re lined for.

Hiving a swarm from an unknown supply

  • Hive on basis
  • Do not feed for 4 days (simply in case they arrive from a colony with foul brood. Should you hive on basis the foul brood is used up out of their system as a part of the wax making course of. Nonetheless Roger has solely come throughout one swarm that had foul brood).
  • You possibly can put a queen excluder below the brood field to cease the queen leaving, however the draw back is that it may possibly get clogged up with drones and if the swarm has a virgin queen she then cannot get out to mate.

Increase a swarm

  • Let it construct up naturally
  • Solely feed if vital – Roger hasn’t in about 40 years
  • Examine usually
  • Re-queen if wanted

Thanks Roger for an ideal discuss. As you’ll be able to see, he lined so much! I did not get notes for all of it. What do you suppose, have swarms modified because you began beekeeping? Is there something you do in a different way when gathering/taking care of a swarm?

The swarm
One among my swarms, 2018

About Emily Scott

I’m a UK beekeeper who has lately moved from London to windswept, moist Cornwall. I first began protecting bees within the Ealing Beekeepers Affiliation’s native apiary in 2008, after I created this weblog as a report for myself of my varied beekeeping associated disasters and – hopefully! – future successes.