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Keeping the Swarm

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

A customer wrote in saying they wish they had known more about how to catch and keep swarms, saying they have caught several swarms in the past but had little success in keeping them from leaving. After giving us a call and chatting with someone here at Kelley Beekeeping, they were happy to report they were successful in keeping their next swarm.

What was the magical answer they received? Well, we had to ask around Kelley Beekeeping, but this is what we learned.

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. Make sure you have the entrance clogged.

Best of luck with your next swarm!

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