BeekeepingStudy: Beekeeping Made Easier

Expert Tips To Catch a Swarm of Bees Safely




How To Catch A Swarm Of Bees

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At the beginning of my beekeeping journey, I purchased a Nuc from an online store. But at the very first spring, my bees swarmed away.

But then I haven’t purchased a Nuc again to start my beekeeping again. I learned from the local beekeeping team how to catch a swarm of bees. Then I caught a bee swarm in a nuc box that was settled in a tree.

I have installed that nuc in a beehive that I caught from a tree. Also, with time I learned how to prevent the swarming of bees. By learning so, over time I became able to expand my apiary without spending much.

Because I started to look for bees in a tree, on a wall, and anywhere that is not owned by any beekeeper. Then I start catching bees from trees, walls, and so on. Also, I started splitting beehives every year and was able to prevent swarming.

By doing so, I increased the number of beehives in my apiary and successfully expanded my apiary.

Now from over 5 years of my own experience of catching swarm, I am going to guide you on how you can do it yourself too.




What Is A Swarm?

In simple words, a swarm is a cluster of bees that are out of their old hive and looking for a new hive. When scout bees are looking for a suitable nest site, the rest of the swarm may take a rest during their flight. During the resting period, they cluster together in a mounting which is a catchable swarm.

Swarm In A Tree
Swarm In A Tree


Bees always stick together and work together for the betterment of their colony. The pheromone released by the queen controls them.

So, when they require a new place to live, they send the scout bees to find a suitable location. After finding the right place they swarmed there with their queen. Then they start building their colony within a few days.




How Do You Find A Swarm?

To find a swarm you can look for a large cluster of bees in a tree, wall, or in an abandoned house. Also, you can keep in contact frequently with the local beekeeping associations in your region. They might inform you when there is any swarm around.

  • Mostly bee swarms are often seen during spring to early summer. This period is also known as the swarming season for honey bees.
  • You can also attract a bee swarm by placing a bee swarm trap in a suitable location.
  • You can use lemongrass around an empty beehive to attract bees to the hive.

A bee swarm usually isn’t aggressive. But if you try to disturb them they won’t hesitate to attack you together.

So, when you are thinking about catching a swarm you must be very careful. it is always preferable to not try to catch a swarm on your own without having proper knowledge and expertise.




How To Catch A Swarm Of Bees

Before approaching to catch a swarm of bees in a hive you should take some protective gear first. Don’t try to be a hero in front of a swarm. Don’t try to interact with them without any bee suit and without wearing gloves.

To catch a swarm you should take the following things with you.

  1. Protective Gear: Before approaching a swarm wear a bee suit, hand gloves, shoes, and a beekeeping hat and veil.
  2. A Nuc Box: You should take something that can be used to store the swarm. You can use a Nuc box or an abandoned quilt box if it doesn’t get broken. You can also use your abandoned beehive if it is still reusable for this case.
  3. Take A Smoker If Possible: The swarm you are going to catch can be very aggressive. In such cases, you probably have to use the smoker to calm them.
  4. A Small Gate For The Entrance: You can make this by using any small piece of steel or plastic. Make sure it has some holes so that air can pass through it.
  5. Bee Brush.
  6. Swarm Lure or Lemongrass oil.
  7. Queen Cage.

After accumulating the materials you can approach the swarm and catch it gently and carefully inside the box.

Bee swarms might be located in a tree branch, a bole laid on the ground, on a wall, etc.




Careful About The Timing

It is really crucial to select the right time to catch a swarm. If you ask me what is the ideal timing to catch a swarm of bees? My answer is as soon as you discover the cluster.

My favorite timing to catch a swarm is when the cluster is set, nice, and calm, a few bees are swinging around the cluster. In such a situation, there is a high chance that the queen is present and it will be easier to put the maximum amount of bees into the box.




How To Catch A Bee Swarm In A Tree

Catching a bee swarm in a tree won’t be a tough task if you are expert enough. But as a beginner, you should be very careful about catching a bee swarm.


How To Catch A Bee Swarm In A Tree


After identifying the bee swarm, accumulate all the necessary equipment as I mentioned above. Then you should approach the swarm by following the steps below.

  • Step-1: Locate the swarm and move close to the swarm.
  • Step-2: First take the box that you have taken to keep the bees. Then close its entrance using the small gate that you created using steel or plastic material. Make sure there are a few small holes.
  • Step-3: Open the top cover of the box and make sure there isn’t any other open entrance for bees.
  • Step-4: Place the box right below the cluster and hold it carefully.
  • Step-5: If the cluster is on a branch then hold the branch and start shaking it. First, shake slowly after then give some giant shaking. If there is no way to shake, you can put the bees inside the box using your hand.
  • Step-6: After step-5 you will have the maximum amount of bees in your box. But without the queen, your bees won’t be able to survive. So, make sure you have the queen inside the box.
  • Step-7: If you are not sure about that you have got the queen or not. Close the hive top cover and wait a little bit. If you have the queen inside the box, after a few moments the remaining bees will come on their own and will fly around your hive entrance. Because the bees will be attracted by the pheromones released by the queen through the holes of the gate at the hive entrance. In case, the queen remains on the tree you have to open the top cover again and shake the branch again. You must have the queen inside the box.
  • Step-8: After having the queen and the maximum amount of bees in your box close the top cover. Then transport the box to its suitable place as early as possible.
  • Expert Tip: After having the queen lock her in a queen cage then close the nuc box. This will force the entire swarm not to leave the Nuc box.




Tips For Catching Bees In A Tree

  • Approach the swarm when they are nice and gentle.
  • The cluster at a lower branch of the tree: If you can easily reach the swarm, you can hold the branch and shake it by placing the nuc box beneath the cluster.
  • If the cluster is at a higher branch: You might need a ladder to reach close to the swarm. So, try to uplift yourself until the swarm is in your comfort zone. Then if needed smoke the bees and put them inside the nuc box by catching them on your hand. Do this gently so they don’t get hurt. You can also use your bee brush in this case.
  • If possible use lemongrass or swarm lure as bait to catch a swarm.




How To Catch A Bee Swarm In A Wall

You can catch the bee swarm that is clustering in a wall very easily. Try to approach the cluster in the early morning or evening after sunset. The steps are very similar to catching a bee swarm in a tree.

  • Step-1: Take protective gear and wear hand gloves.
  • Step-2: Place the nuc box very close to the cluster by opening its top cover.
  • Step-3: Use a smoker if necessary. Then simply grab the bees in your hand very gently and put them inside the box.
  • Step-4: After having the queen inside the box close its top cover and transport the box as early as possible.
  • Expert Tip: You can use a bee vacuum in this case. This is my favorite method to catch a swarm in a wall.




Will Bees Swarm Without A Queen?

No, bees won’t swarm without a queen. In the case of a queenless hive, bees will swarm madly as they don’t have any queen. In all other cases, bees will swarm with their colony as they won’t live without having a queen.

During catching a bee swarm, if you haven’t caught the queen inside the box yet. You just have to wait for a little.

The remaining bees will again cluster at their old location. So, after making the cluster you can again try to catch them. After a few attempts, you will definitely be able to catch the queen.




What To Do After Catching A Swarm?

You have to be very careful at this stage. When you catch the swarm with the queen you have to transport it to your apiary as soon as possible. After getting the bee box in your apiary install them on an empty beehive.

  • Don’t open the entrance or top cover for at least a few hours of catching the bees.
  • If possible after catching the swarm put the queen in a cage. If you do so, bees won’t be able to leave the box without the queen. And I found it is really effective to keep the bees in the nuc until transportation to their permanent hive.
  • After a few hours, install them into a full-sized empty hive very carefully.




How To Transfer The Caughted Swarm Into A Hive?

In order to transfer the catcher swarm into a hive you must have a full-sized beehive having empty frames. Do the transportation at a suitable time for a hive inspection.

First, place 3 empty frames inside the hive. Then take at least two frames that have some drone, worker, and broods on them. Then place those two frames inside the new hive. It will be better if those frames have some pollen and nectar.

Transfer a swarm to full-sized hive


Then tap the bees from the current bee box to the prepared beehive. You can also get some tips on installing bees in a new hive from my post on how to install a nuc to a hive.

Keep the hive entrance closed for a few hours. Bees will automatically adopt their and will accept their home within a few hours to a couple of days.




How Do You Attract A Bee Swarm?

In order to attract a bee swarm you can plant some flowering trees in your garden. You can also use some bee-friendly music to attract bees to your garden.

Finding a bee swarm on a tree or anywhere can be difficult and time-consuming. That’s why if you want to catch bees, it’s better to try to attract them instead of looking for a cluster.

The best way of attracting a swarm is to have flowering plants in the garden. If any swarm passes close to the garden they will definitely get attracted by the flowering plants. So, they will come to your garden and will cluster on any of your flowering plants.




Frequently Asked Questions


When is Swarm Season for Honey Bees?

Spring to early summer is considered the swarm season for honey bees. Because during this time, the colony is at its maximum capacity. So, the old queen needs to emerge to a new location with a portion of worker and scout bees.

What bait for bee swarms?

The thing that smells like pheromone that uses by bees is mostly suitable as a bait. My favorite is lemongrass oil as it smell like bee pheromone. If you are interested you can also purchase swarm lure which is even more powerful bait for bee swarms.

What to do against a swarm of bees?

If you don’t have expertise don’t approach the swarm. Call local beekeepers or related experts. They will take the bees with them and relocate them to a safe and new location.




Final Words

Catching a swarm of bees on a tree, wall, or from anywhere won’t be a very easy task. You should be tricky and have a proper guide on catching bee swarms safely and effectively.

It is always preferred without having proper experience and knowledge you should avoid catching a swarm on your own. In that case, after identifying a swarm you can seek help from your local beekeeper to catch that swarm. You can also call a local pest control professional for assistance with catching bees.

Catching a cluster of bees is fun and rewarding in the field of beekeeping. This is my favorite part of beekeeping. By catching swarm I am easily expanding my apiary in every single year.

Following are the helpful researches that might be helpful for you.

  • L. Packer and G. Darla-West, “Bees: How and Why to Sample Them.” Read the paper here.
  • 4 best beekeeping books everyone must learn. Get the booklist here.
  • A. Zacepins, A. Kviesis, V. Komasilovs, and R. Brodschneider, “When It Pays to Catch a Swarm—Evaluation of the Economic Importance of Remote Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colony Swarming Detection.” Read the paper here.


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