On Monday, I came home to do some work in the yard but was surprised with a swarm when I pulled up to the house. When bees swarm, they first gather outside the entrance of the hive as all the swarming bees get ready to leave the current hive. Then, they fly as a group–what looks like a loosely formed cloud–to find a gathering spot outside. Then, they leave once more to find a more permanent home.
When I got home, the bees were at the stage of finding a temporary gathering space, which meant that I saw where they came from and where they went. I imagine that this is probably a rare occurrence in beekeeping, but it gave me an advantage because I prepared a nuc box, a mini hive, with a frame of honey and a frame of brood from the current hive to try to entice them to stay once I put the swarm in the box.
They landed on a branch of a neighbor’s tree about 25 feet above ground and about 5 foot from the trunk of the tree. After much thought, trial and error, and the help of a fellow beekeeper, I was able to knock them off the branch by cutting the branch near the swarm. I was hoping that they would fall onto a sheet below so that I could scoop them up and put them in a nuc box, but they didn’t like that idea :). They flew around, a little confused, wanting to land on the branch that had been removed. I decided to move the nuc box I had prepared for them under the ground where they were flying, and they seemed to find it appealing. They quickly took to the box and were all in and even taking orientation flights a couple of hours later. Now, they are in the apiary building comb and preparing for the spring nectar flow.