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First swarm catch gone wrong

Well i attempted my first swarm catching the other day. I thought i was doing well but when i went to pick the hive up that night i noticed that some bees were dying and i thought i must of crushed some when putting in the frames (the swarm could have easily fit in a full size box)

i left it for 2 days as i had to go down south and when i got home i checked the hive and it was quiet. I was devastated.

I think opened up the Nuc i put them in and what i saw was a lot of posioned bees. the box was half full of bees too.

I was trying to figure out what i did wrong. i prrtty much shook them in then i used a smoker to try and get the last few off. The only thing that i did differently was i used a bit of cardboard inside the smoker to get my Hessian sack lit. thats all i can think of maybe posioned them? cant believe it such a waste and a shame this happened.

I guess its a good learning point.

Im saying they were poisoned as they were wet with their tongues out?

Hi John that’s a shame. Did they have enough space and air flow?
The heat has been incredible the last few weeks and pour ponds and have been teaming with bees. Maybe they got too hot?
I am sure some of our more experienced bee keepers will have some answers.
Good luck.

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Hi John, sad to hear and a terrible feeling I’m sure. It’s my understanding that there isn’t really a need to use a smoker with a swarm, as the purpose of it is to calm agitated bees/more for inspection…but I doubt that the smoke is what killed them. Unless there was something toxic on the cardboard? Anyway, I wondered if you had the nuc closed all the way up, or was there an entrance/exit for them?

I’m thinking it was heat-related, like Gary said…again, sorry for a sad experience! But a learning one :pensive:

Maybe the swarm was poisoned by somebody else. It happened to me last year. :cry:

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John, I would think that the glue used in the making of the cardboard could be the issue. It could be heat related but my thinking is towards the cardboard and the smoker.
But when you try for a swarm next time just suit up and leave the smoker on standby, as you shouldn’t need to use it. Rather than shake a cluster into a box if they are on a branch I would cut the branch and lay it next to the hive entrance after shaking just a few bees into the hive or placing the branch onto the top of the frames with the roof off to the side. Nice to watch the parade once it gets into full swing of bees willingly and calmly going into the hive.
Cheers

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I think you a right Peter. Unfortunately i just used it to try and get the last few moving down from the branch and into the hive a bit quicker. i only used a few puffs of smoke and unfortunately trying to like the smoker easily i grabbed some cardboard and put it in.

i definitely will take that out into account for next one. i think i will give it a shake and let the rest walk in. It was a good lesson learnt. im glad i didnt use that bit of cardboard in my smoker on my good hives. from now on straw and hessian is my only fuel.

It was definitely not heat related as it was done at 6pm and then the rains came so didnt get over 25deg and lots of ventilation. such a shame.

I think Peter is right that cardboard can release some toxic fumes when burned (depends how it was manufactured) but I doubt:

… will kill the amount of bees that you experienced.

Unfortunately, we probably can never find out what the culprit is, but I also suspect someone else poisoned them. To be safe though, don’t use cardboard again.

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I’ll often use a coil of cardboard at the bottom of the smoker with pine needles above with no apparent ill effects.
I use the cardboard from the Flow hive packing. Definately wouldn’t use the coated or printed cardboard though.
I’ve never used the smoker when housing a swarm though, just a frame of brood.

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This was my thought… you were gone for a few days. Or they could have been already poisoned. Sad to hear.

I’m still waiting to catch my first swarm…

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I catch a lot of swarms and know that many times people spray them with hoses to try and make them go away- and even sometime people spray them with aerosol fly sprays :disappointed_relieved:. Personally I would be surprised if it was anything in the smoke that could kill them all. Where was the swarm located? Is it possible someone had already sprayed them? Or even after you housed them could someone have tried to kill them? Then there is also the chance that just by chance they have foraged where someone has sprayed recently.

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I think i just figured out why it went wrong and how they got poisoned. found this on the bottom of my smoker… Yes i must of sat it on the blue tarp i used under the hive box and this melted plastic put off fumes.

Thanks for the update John, I’m thinking you have nailed the issue and a lesson learnt the hard way, now it is time to regroup and at it again.
Cheers

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That’s a tough realization John, one of those simple things we wish we’d been aware of but can only learn from after the fact. Happens to everyone somehow. Thanks for the update and a helpful caution to all regarding hot smokers in general.