Tip from John Williams- SWHB Apiary Manager
Before even contemplating collecting a swarm, it is important that you are experienced enough and feel confident to take the swarm safely with little or no inconvenience to others or risk to yourself.
Bear in mind your level of fitness and your own limitations as there could be ladders required or the need to carry your kit and the swarm over long distances or obstacles to your car.
You should be fully insured. BBKA membership will cover this providing you comply to its terms and conditions such as getting the landowner to complete the appropriate disclaimer form. Remember to obtain permission before cutting any vegetation.
You will need to have normal beekeeping kit of protective clothing and gloves plus ideally the following (although depending on the location of the swarm you may well not use some of it):
- bee brush,
- container such as a skep or nuc (with old frames/lumps of comb) but a lot of people just use a handy sized cardboard box. The entrance must be able to be blocked off once swarm has settled inside. A brick or stone can also be useful to weigh the container down until you return to collect it.
- Loppers, secateurs and a saw to clear any vegetation obstructing access to the swarm (but be careful as the vibrations from using a saw may start the bees flying),
- Ladder or steps,
- ‘bucket on a stick’ – useful for getting a swarm if high up and a ladder cannot be used safely.
- Sheet to wrap container holding the swarm once caught + string / tape to secure ready for transport to new home,
- spray gun with a strongly smelling liquid such as diluted Jeyes fluid. It can be useful to spray the surface of whatever the swarm originally landed on to help eliminate any of queen’s pheromones that may remain there and hopefully stop any flying bees congregating there once again,
- Public awareness signage.
Ideally all the above (including your suit and gloves) will be different from the kit you usually use when managing your bees as the swarm will most likely be from an unknown source and therefore their history and level of health will be unknown. Using different equipment will help minimise any potential disease transmission from the swarm to your current colonies.