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Advice on moving swarm

I made a 5 frame swarm trap and hung it in a tree two weeks ago. This afternoon I checked it to find I had caught a swarm! I can’t seem to find the exact answer to my question here, so hopefully someone can help.
My question is, when is the best time to move them, and is it ok to move them about 30 metres to where the hive will be? How would I stop them going back to the tree the trap is in? Should I move them as soon as possible, or wait until they have built up a bit in the trap?
Thanks in advance for any help!

There are a few different thoughts on when to move a swarm - straight away or wait a while. My preference in your situation with a relatively small move, less than 3km, I would do it the night they moved in. They have committed to the swarm trap and the next day they will all reorientate to the hive. Moving it means they orientate where you want them. Yes there is a risk they will abscond but in my experience this is low.

Your other option is to wait a week or so and then move them a few meters every other day to where you want them or move them greater than 3km for a few weeks and then move them to desired location.

Hi there usually I would move the swarm trap on the same day they were caught at night to the new location.
Next day they reorientation to that new spot.
Then anytime in the next week or two transfer into a permanent home.
If they have been there overnight then I would transfer them to a new box at the base of the tree and then let them settle for a week then relocate to 3ks plus away as per Adam’s advice.
I have had some success relocating nearby by using leaves and branches in front of the entrance but you always lose some bees that just keep going back.

Thanks for the advice. I went to move the swarm trap last night, but found no bees in there anymore. Not sure if it was just a lot of scout bees I saw? Any other ideas of what might be the reason?

You are probably correct in saying that it could be a lot of scout bees. The scout bees may still decide to lure the swarm to your lure. Having said that, a 5 frame lure would most likely rule out a large primary swarm because the volume would be too small to accommodate them. To accommodate a decent swarm, the lure would need to be at least 10 frames in volume.

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Thomas Seeley agrees with @JeffH, and Seeley has done a huge amount of very well-respected and published work on swarms. His fascinating book, Honeybee Democracy, is all about this stuff:


Thanks Jeff. That’s interesting, I haven’t heard that about different sized swarms. It’s a 5 frame box with space underneath (I think around 40 litres volume). Would that still be too small for a decent swarm?

Thanks Dawn! I’ll look that book up.

You’re welcome Wrenhill. From what I read, 40 litres is just about ideal. I’ve never read Tom Seeley’s book, however the title alone is enough to suggest to me what’s going on when scout bees are looking for a new location.

Swarms can vary from the size of 2 footballs combined, down to the size of a single tennis ball. Sometimes you go to a swarm with a single 10 frame brood box & wonder how all the bees will fit in. Somehow they seem to all fit in & occupy the whole 10 frames. On the other hand a swarm can be much smaller & barely cover half of one frame.

I have never set a bee lure, however if I did I would take into consideration all the things that I think the scout bees are going to vote on. My thinking is volume of the cavity, insulation of the cavity & importantly, protection from predators.

Yeah I’m just starting out on my beekeeping journey. I made a swarm trap going off of a few different ideas online.

The bees are back today, so we’ll see what they’re doing by tonight.

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Well done, you’ll be able to look closely to observe the bees communicating with each other, which if you have the time is fascinating to watch.

I recently told this story of what I observed last year while collecting a swarm from someone’s yard.
The people had a swarm in a tree, while at the same time they had scout bees investigating a gap in their wall. I try not to shake swarms, I let them walk into the capture box where possible. While the bees were moving down to my capture box, I noticed a bee covered in dust doing a waggle dance across the bees. I figured that that bee must have been one of the scouts from inside the wall cavity, covered in dust.

I did end up watching them for a bit. I noticed two of them fighting with each other… not sure if that would mean anything?
Also, come night time they were all gone again :thinking:

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Maybe scouts from 2 different swarms :wink:

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Good thought. There is a lot of wild hives around the place

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If I was a scout bee, I might do everything I could to prevent a competing scout from getting back to its swarm and sharing the good news of a tasty new home that I wanted too… :blush:

Maybe a good sign for your lure?

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Hopefully. I’ve had bees in there the last three days, but come nightfall they are all gone. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign haha

That’s a good point that Dawn made about competing swarms. One would think that it’s not a matter of “if” but when a colony moves into your swarm lure.

The other day a bloke came & got some used comb from me to place inside a swarm lure. Hopefully that works for him. That could be something to think about, as long as it comes from a disease free hive.

Maybe reverse psychology will work. Put the lure up the tree to attract birds or possums.

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I have put some swarm commander in there, so I assume that is what is drawing them there in the first place.

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