We are trying to maintain five colonies of honey bees on the farm, and as beekeepers must, we keep an eye on each hive to take steps to prevent the colony from splitting into two and half of them swarming away. Even with our efforts to keep them from feeling crowded, swarms still happen and it brings the productivity of the hive to a standstill.
For the first time, we actually found a swarm in one of our own trees this week. My husband heard a strange buzzing noise while working in the barn and when he went to investigate he found a big clump of bees hanging from a branch of one of the maples. The cost of replacing a colony is close to $100 nowadays, so it was well worth the effort of collecting them and bringing them back to the apiary.
Here are some pictures of the process. We tried coaxing them into a hive box by placing it under the tree and putting in a frame of enticing honey. They did not move down into it even overnight, but the other local bees found it a good opportunity to begin robbing.
My husband rented a tall stepladder and carried a cardboard box up to catch them after he trimmed off the branch they were calling home. The bees are now tucked into a new hive box and we hope they decide to stay with us. For the moment, we are up to six colonies but don’t expect to get a lot of honey due to most of them starting from scratch this year.