Keeping the Swarm

Capturing a swarm is more than half the fun; keeping it once you bring it home may be another challenge.

A reader shared “I wish I had known more about how to catch and keep swarms. I have caught several swarms but had little success in keeping them from leaving. After asking one of your employees I have become more successful.”

What was the magical answer they received? Well, we had to ask around Kelley’s to find the employee with whom they spoke. Many of our employees are also beekeepers, and love taking your questions.

We believe the person with the answer was Sean Burgess, who has since left Kelley’s for the job of Kentucky State Apiarist. Sean said:

When capturing swarms, they don’t always stay where we put them. The trick is to get the swarm queen laying and your chances for them staying put increase dramatically.


When I catch a swarm I put them into a box and install a queen excluder under the box on top of the bottom board. This turns the queen excluder into a queen includer.


I also take a branch with leaves on it and shove it in front of the hive so the bees need to fly through the leaves. This will get them to orient to the hive. I think it is the physical act of having to crawl through the leaves and branches that does the trick.


Putting them on drawn comb, and or comb with stores in them will also help.


Once the queen has begun to lay you can remove the excluder and the branch.


You need to have the entrance clogged.

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