Whenever we find a swarm much above eye level, the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher is called into action. You can make one by cutting the bottom out of a plastic flower pot and attaching a cloth sack. The height is adjustable by the length of bamboo used. Many thanks to Don Steinkraus for writing about it, and Terry Kelly of Berkeley for sending it to me. It’s invaluable.
I consider myself a ‘natural beekeeper.’ I don’t make splits, raise my own queens, or buy package bees. I let the bees swarm. I believe in the adage, “Swarming Bees are Healthy Bees.” Having said that, when the bees swarm, we have to catch them. If they swarm into the bamboo, it’s lower to the ground, but difficult to get. If they swarm into the spruce tree, they generally cluster up high. The first one this year formed high, then re-formed to a lower more reachable area.
Pipe holders for a length of bamboo to slip into.
Sew in a curve to avoid trapping bees in a corner.
Velcro attaches the sack to the cut off flower pot.My first swarm this year happened last week. I was busy with printing deadlines when my wife shouted, “WE HAVE A SWARM!” The bees seem to like this spruce tree. It’s been the scene for three swarms now, two of which we have caught.
Centering the catcher under the swarm.
The idea is to position the catcher under the swarm before bumping the branch to make the bees fall directly into the sack. Last year I was able to ‘pop’ the branch upward to get a bunch of bees all at once. This time it didn’t go as planned. The bees clung to the branch. When I ‘popped the branch,’ They started flying around and getting all defensive. The camera lady was concerned (maybe because we were both getting stung) so we didn’t get the action on video. The next morning we were more successful. We trimmed a few branches and I was able to ‘pop’ the branch from above. The bees fell into the sack, the sack was emptied into the empty Warre, and all is well as of day 4.
April 15, 2014…This is day 4. I’m assuming the bees have decided to stay.
April 15, 2014…the bees can be seen through the observation window. Chaining to ‘measure’ for building natural comb.
I’m sure you’ve seen the you-tube video of the guy putting his bare hand into a swarm of bees. As I suited up to get this newly formed swarm, I’m thinking, “what a sissy I am. The swarm just formed, they’re not going to sting.” Let’s just say, I’m glad I was suited up. I was able to give this bee sting remedy a good test. By softening up the end of a clove of garlic, rubbing it onto the stings to relieve the pain and the swelling, I can report that it worked well on all our stings.
I found out about peppermint oil from one of the bee forums. If you daub some of it around the sting area, it will cover up the bee’s alarm pheromone…just don’t daub it directly on your sting because it can be much more painful than the sting itself. Believe me, I know.
Catching the bees into the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher video
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