To Catch a Swarm

The first video is a pretty good explanation of catching a swarm. Some comments on the technique to consider:

  1. Avoid over spraying the bees, especially if you are putting them into a bucket or container that has no frames. Don’t spray sugar water on the hive entrance either, to avoid robbing.
  2. You will note that he knocks a bunch of bees off of the branch as he cuts it from the tree. If possible, spread a white or light colored sheet exactly under the swarm and place the hive box there. Then the bees that fall will land on the sheet near the box. They will tend to walk from the light sheet into the dark hive box.
  3. Having the hive on a sheet on the ground instead of on a stand also makes shaking the bees into the hive a bit easier.
  4. You will know that the queen is in the box because there will be bees fanning pheromone from their Nasanov glands at the entrance.

Once you move the swarm to its new location:

  1. Reduce the entrance to a small defensible area (2 inches).
  2. Add a frame of capped brood to prevent the colony from absconding. Swarms may have already decided on a new location that they like better than the one you give them! They won’t leave the brood.
  3. Add pollen substitute and syrup to give the swarm a jump start.
  4. Do not disturb for at least 2 weeks.


This next video demonstrates the sheet in use, and has good points about how to “bang” the bees into the swarm catch box.

In our area, an external feeder, like the Boardman feeder he puts on the NUC at the end, are not recommended. They encourage robbing which is a problem with a newly established colony like a swarm. Use an internal feeder:

Mason Jar Feeder

Feeding syrup in a Mason jar with tiny holes in the lid. The stand has just enough space for the bees to feed under the jar. (Courtesy of Barbara Jones)

Swarm Kit:

Last minute:

  • Honey frame for hive box
  • Bucket of beekeeping tools


  • Hive box with frames and lemon grass.
    • Drawn comb – at least one brood nest frame.
    • Rub the frames with beeswax and spray them with the sugar water if they do not have drawn comb
  • 2 outer covers. (On will be used as a bottom board with no entrance for transporting)
  • You can also use a bucket or box with a screened top
  • White sheet. (Placed under the hive box before shaking in the bees)
  • Spritzer full of warm 1:1 syrup and Honey B Healthy
  • Bee suit, hat, gloves
  • Hair band
  • Head lamp
  • Spatula – very thin and flexible – for scraping bees off of the walls and other flat surfaces
  • Bungie cords for securing the top to the hive box, or comealong strap
  • Net if you have one
  • Pruning shears
  • Rubber bands
  • Pruning saw