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First Adelaide swarm of the year- a beautiful thing


Spring is officially early- got my first swarm call. Learned a lesson: never be blasé. All swarms I’ve caught have been very passive and gentle. Today I put on my veil but I didn’t tuck it in- when I dropped the swarm into the box bees went everywhere swarmed all over me breached the veil, got in my hair- and I copped a sting on the back of the head! Oddly it didn’t hurt much. I hope they’re not always aggressive bees…they swarmed out of a bird box- the owners says it swarms twice every year- good size primary swarm:


You are so lucky…
Every swarm I have caught has been aggressive
The UK beekeeping associations harp on about local bees being best…not mine they ain’t


really? I have caught swarms that simply marched into the new hive on cue- without a single bee showing any signs of aggression at all. That’s why I was caught out yesterday- I really didn’t expect them to go airborne and attack my face. I had been considering doing it without the veil at all- and bare hands- I am very glad i didn’t do that. I think I might have copped 20 stings to the face.

Have you found that your aggressive swarms stay aggressive as colonies? And do you routinely requeen them? You always seem to be squashing queens and queen cells Dee- I have never killed a queen yet. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one to see how they behave moving forward.


I beekeep in a full suit and veil, but catch swarms in shorts and t-shirt (I know, tough right). The only time I’ve been stung is when they get inside my clothing and I accidentally squish them.

Still frosty in Christchurch, but looking forward to the first swarm…


In truth- the one that stung my head probably only did that when I razzed her trying to get her out. But a lot were buzzing at my face in that way that says: I am going to sting you!

I have a game theory about bees in the suit: if you try and get them out- or squish them- you are much more likely to be stung than if you just ignore them. It can be hard to do though when they are crawling in your hair…


I meant they are aggressive colonies
I used to be a swarm collector but gave up because I got too much grief from people reporting bumblebees
I used to put my bare hand into swarms to show how non aggressive they are. A sort of stupid party trick


A good sized swarm there Jack, hope they settle down in a new hive and can’t say I can recall an angry swarm in my times, it is usually when they are most placid.
Look forward to hearing if they settle down.


The home owners just sent me a great picture of the donor hive- I suppose the koala found a nice warm seat?


Brilliant photo Jack!


Good work Jack and love that photo of the koala, I’ve got a young one in my garden that likes to walk along my deck hand rail.
Can you tell us what size box and how many frames etc that you find is best to catch swarms ?
I have three wild colonies within a few Kim’s of my home here on Kangaroo Island so would like to be ready if a swarm turns up this year[quote=“Semaphore, post:8, topic:16004, full:true”]
The home owners just sent me a great picture of the donor hive- I suppose the koala found a nice warm seat?



Regards Brian


No worries- mostly I use a 5 frame Nuc box, and that works perfectly. Ideally I have frames of foundation in it- depending on if I am organized. If I’m not I have two foundation and the rest with starter strips or old combs. I put a drop of lemongrass oil in the box, and a little honey on the top bars of the frames.

However if a swarm is really huge- I might use an 8 frame box. If they are huge they might abscond from anything smaller. I had that happen once last year.

Nice Koala BTW- very cute- can you hand feed it?


Some people never learn…notably me- today I had to move a hive two feet- and the plan was to inspect it at the same time. They say no plan survives the first encounter with the enemy: and today it proved true. I split the hive into two boxes and was immediately swarmed by bees. Although I had my full suit on- I had not fastened and secured it fully- and within seconds bees were in my hair again- and I copped more stings- on the back of my head AGAIN. About the only good thing to report concerning that: stings to the back of the head don’t seem to hurt as much as the hands or face! Yay!

I had to run around the house several times- smoke everything like crazy- panic and then recover just to get things back under control. The bees were NOT happy! I had to abandon my plans to inspect- and will secure and stitch up those niggling holes in my suit- in preparation for round two in a day or three. Pray for me.


OMG Jack! You and me both! I did a big inspection on Wednesday - had the flow super taken apart and frame in two boxes beside the hive as it is so full of honey and I couldn’t lift it except with several frames out. I was just getting into the brood box when I felt the unmistakeable sensation of a bee crawling on my neck -inside my fully done up suit! I went stiff knowing a sting was coming as soon as she got to my hairline and sure enough - then I raced for the house yelling for my daughter to get the phenergan and boil a kettle for my spoon treatment. How did it get in, you ask? Well, I have been tardy in sewing up a tear - in the crotch! - that occurred when my big 25 year old son squeezed himself into the smaller of my bee suits one day to help me with the bees. So that little bee travelled all the way up my body inside the suit until she got stuck in my hair. You can’t be mad with them, can you. Yes Jack, I will pray for you too!


Cheers Cathie!

I just finished stitching up my suit- now finally the neck zipper closes correctly. It’s stupid- there has bee a bee sized gap there for ages- and time again I have looked at it and think to myself ‘a bee won’t find that this time’, and then the bee finds it. There really is nothing worse when doing an inspection suddenly feeling a bee crawling inside the suit on your face, head (or crotch!).

These things spiral out of control- you are not properly prepared, the bees get a bit antsy- a bee gets in- or you get stung through the suit- your start to panic- move fast and then the bees get more antsy. I swear they can smell fear.

There is so much to be said for checking and double checking that the bee suit is bee proof from the feet to the head.


@cathiemac I once went to my apiary without my usual thick woolen socks taking a pair of thin nylons instead. The bees homed in on my ankles and gave me hell.

I suspect there is truth in that Jack. If my bees get too antsy I just walk away till the guard bees consider I am far enough away as to no longer be a threat, give them a minute to calm down and return with lots of smoke. I think making a fast escape seems to make the bees worse.

I recall a time I had my Dad wanting to see what I did working in a hive, he was in a bee suit, etc as I opened up a hive he was behind me. The bees ignored me and gave him a really hard time till he walked away back to my ute.

Why did they go for him and not me? As the bees came out of the hive they were not antsy but he said he was shocked at the amount of bees flying about and thought something had gone wrong, which it hadn’t. I have always thought they can sense or smell fear.


Wow, a pair of nylons? Well, I suppose you have to do whatever makes you comfortable when beekeeping! :smiling_imp:


I fell in the deep end there Dawn, I meant thin nylon socks and not my fish net nylons :astonished:


the people just called me- and they have a second swarm- and surprisingly- it has landed in the identical spot in their yard- same bush, same branch- even though the mother hive is over 35 feet away. Supposedly it’s about half the size of the first- so it’s the secondary swarm. I am too busy today and tomorrow to collect it. If there is anyone in SA who reads this and wants a swarm- contact me ASAP. I told the lady to call the other swarm people- so it may get snapped up any moment now.


Hey Jack, For swarms to end up on the same branch isn’t that unusual, I am guessing the branch is heavily scented with pheromones and it attracts other swarms, even in the following year.


Wouldn’t it be great if each of our apiaries had a swarm tree branch to find a swarm waiting till you come home after work to collect it!
Guess there are ideal swarm places and pheromones likely play a role.
I never saw a swarm and my swarm prevention worked so far, but it’s bound to happen one day.
Have a couple of swarm traps out, but the National Park is so vast, they surely find plenty of beautiful tree hollows.
Do you guys ever find swarms in easily accessible places if there is big bush out there for them?
Just wonder where my bees would go.