Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Collecting bee swarms can be tricky

We have kept bees for three years but this is the first year that we have collected swarms. We did not advertise the fact or go out of our way to find them but there were so many swarms in our area (including a few of our own) that we just kept finding them or being told about them.  We have now collected 7 in total; a couple have been kept as new colonies, one offered back to a clear 'owner' and the rest merged in with our existing stock with mixed results. The trickiness comes in two elements: 1. Capturing them from wherever they have chosen to land and 2. Then deciding what to do with them.

The picture above shows me attempting to collect the last and most tricky challenge, in the fork of an ivy-bound tree, above a stream and balancing on a plank of wood. Not ideal!  And the queen was so wedged into the V of the tree trunk that it took 4 attempts over 12 hours to scoop her out and get her into a nuc. Each previous time the swarm regrouped back in the tree within a hour of being scooped out. Its a miracle that they survived. The queen went on to prove to be a good and calm layer and we have just attempted to use her to replace a very aggressive queen.  I hope she has survived that too. Next instalment coming soon.....