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Oh no... They swarmed!


I knew the hive was very strong. Finally after the rain and busy work schedule I persuaded my son to help me with a brood inspection and sure enough there were bees on top of bees. We removed two frames of brood and put those in the small hive which was a little swarm we captured two weeks ago. Replaced those frames with foundation and broke down a bunch of queen cells which had Royal jelly in them. Thought I caught them just in time.
They were bearding later in the afternoon and very busy this morning and an hour ago the sky was full of my girls. Now there is a very large cluster hanging high high up in a tree above the chicken coop. I have three swarm lures around the yard at different distances from the swarm and am hopeful that they will chose one and not leave us.
Fun times…


for what it’s worth- one of my hives swarmed a month ago- a really huge swarm- since then the numbers have built right back up and the bees are filling the flow frames.

Do you have any lemongrass or lemongrass oil you could put in your traps? I caught a swarm this year that was located directly above a small patch of lemongrass- it really does seem to attract them.


Jack, yes I put a bruised stem of lemongrass into each box. Fingers crossed they find one of the boxes appealing. I have seen a couple of scouts around. There’s talk of a huge storm headed our way so I’m hopeful they won’t go too far looking for a new home. Thanks for the encouragement that they’ll build up again.


Ok… It has been several hours now now and the swarm has still not moved. Scouts have been checking out the lure box I placed 3-4 metres below it. This might be an extreme move but if I was to place a frame with actual brood in it into the box would that draw them? I would feel bad to sacrifice brood if it doesn’t but I would really like to keep the swarm if that would do it… If I did it I guess I’d have to shake off nurse bees - or not - advice please…


Hi Cathie, it is a shame that they are up so high. I doubt if the frame of brood would entice them. It wouldn’t take long for that brood to die, especially the youngest brood. I saw an online recipe once for a swarm attractant. I think they used old comb, propolis & lemongrass oil all mixed together. Don’t quote me. You might be able to find it or something similar online.

It’s hard to change a colonies mind, once they decide to swarm, however it can be done. Feel free to phone me next time, or any time, I can talk you through the process.


Hi Cathie - just further to Jeff - can you get hold of the lemongrass oil? - perhaps that will have more powers of attraction than the crushed stuff…


Yes for sure Dan, I only used the crushed stuff once. It didn’t seem to work. The oil is the way to go. Plus it’s good to rub on sore joints etc. One bottle goes a long way.


Thanks guys for helping. I have become increasingly concerned due to a big storm (possibly hail) headed our way. I got a very long extension pole with net that is used for cleaning the neighbour’s pool and put a frame with a small amount of brood in it. Nephew climbed the tree and pushed the pole up to 1/2 a metre from the swarm. The swarm is 10 metres up I’d say. I will feel terrible for the brood if the bees don’t cover it soon but I needed to try something before the rain gets here. The sky is darkening already.


I do have the oil but couldn’t find it when putting the boxes out. Will hunt again quickly.


Tell him to climb higher, HIGHER. If he does reach the colony with the brood, he’ll need to hold it there for a while, maybe 15 minutes. Then bring it down, put it in a box, put the lid on asap. If the queen is on that frame in the box, all the bees will follow. If the queen is still up in the tree, the bees will leave the box & go back up to the swarm.


Well friends, I can honestly say I did everything I possibly could to encourage them into a box but in the end they decided to weather the storm. We’ll see what tomorrow brings! Thanks for all your ideas!


Hi Cathie we caught ours that swarmed a month ago with 2 frames in a plastic box . They were 15metres up so just got the box about 5 metres up. We used a mix of lemongrass sugar and honey pasted and smeared over the front and inside the box. I had also read to keep the entrance small and the inside dark. So we painted a black 40litre box white on the outside.

It took 2 days but they finally went in. Lucky I guess sometimes :grinning:


That is a job well done Gaz more than luck. In this case you made your own luck. The box you set out ticked all the right boxes for the scout bees. It had the internal volume, it looks like it was high enough for predators not to reach them. Plus it smelt good. Then, as your research showed, the little entrance helped.


Great job Gaz - you must have been absolutely stoked when they all went in!

Ok, the morning report is that the bees are still in the tree. Looks like they went a little higher up for better shelter under the leaves during that storm. There are scouts still around that box which has lemongrass oil, some old brood comb and a foundation frame in there. The opening is about 1.5cm X 4cm. What I’m wondering is if the internal volume of a broccoli box is not adequate? Could that be turning them away? I guess the broccoli box only really comfortably accommodates six frames. Of course I caught the little swarm in a broccoli box but this swarm is much bigger. I have three such boxes around the yard. I don’t have any spare wooden equipment since I hived that little swarm and gave it two frames of brood. My daughter is on the Sunshine Coast today - should I be telling her to come home via Morayfield to buy another brood box? I was hoping to have a couple of days to think about which way to go with equipment. I really only want two hives. I had thought of buying a nuc and transferring the small hive into that and hiving the swarm in their brood box. I guess I’d be selling the nuc in the end if I get my big swarm back.


Hi Cathie, this is just an idea. How would you go cutting the bottom off one broccoli box & then taping it to the top of the swarm lure with masking tape. That would double the internal volume of the lure. That is assuming that all the boxes are the same size. Secure it well off the ground.


Thanks is really exciting when you have these small successes. Really is best to have a small 5 frame nuc box on hand to house splits and swarms until they are strong or a spare 8 frame box with a divider board to reduce the space down til they get strong.
Beekeeping supplies at sumner park are great also.
We ended up with an extra hive for a month until a friend took it. Plenty of people chasing nucs.
If you are on Southside you are more than welcome to use our swarm box.
Good luck.


Thanks Jeff just feeding off the information from all you experienced beekeepers.


You’re welcome Gaz, that’s great to hear. cheers :slight_smile:


Great idea… I definitely would have done that if I hadn’t had to go to work - and then my son says they have exited the tree! :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: Still Scouts checking out the boxes but maybe they are curious bees from somewhere else. Anyway, I am so grateful to have had company along the way during this experience!


Thanks Gaz… that was a kind offer. Really wish I’d had the opportunity to take you up on it! Cheers.