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Swarm Bandit by Brushy Mountain Bees


Brushy Mountain Bees has a new device you place in entrance to capture anticipated swarms…http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/10-Frame-Swarm-Bandit


Nice idea. Thanks for sharing. They have an 8 frame variant as well for those with the Honey Flow box:


So you would have to be sitting at the hive the minute it swarmed?
Easier to split before they go, surely?
I’d love to see one actually work.
I’ve watched a hive with a clipped queen swarm. The bees fly out and cluster in a tree or some such and fly back to the hive when they realise the queen isn’t with them. The queen doesn’t lead the swarm, she is an unwilling participant and the bees don’t hang around the hive with her till she leaves.


There are indicators of a potential swarm weeks in advance…the bandit can be installed days or even weeks before as the workers can freely come and go as usual…yes one could do a split…the results would be similar.


I have a vague feeling that active inspection, and intervention with a modified Snelgrove split would actually be quite a bit better. :blush:


Isn’t it true that even with splits swarms follow?


Not really if it’s done properly. I have done many splits since our early start to spring. None of the hives that I took splits from have swarmed. I have only lost one swarm so far this season. It was a split, that for some reason decided to swarm. So naturally, only a small swarm issued. I guess with beekeeping there is always one exception to the rule.

I would much rather do preemptive swarm splits than to use some device (extra gear to buy & store when not in use) to trap the queen after the colony has spent 2 weeks in preparation to swarm. The same thing goes with clipping a queens wings.


I am a bit confused as to how this works - isn’t it just an additional box with queen excluder at the entrance? Surely this would also trap drones too, so could not be left on for long without a lot of drones clogging up the entrance.

I think i’ll Keep trying to manage my hives properly to reduce swarming before it happens.


yes- I have one hive at the moment that has so many drones in it- I think they would clog up that cage pretty quickly. It’s also the one hive that would be a candidate for using the ‘bandit’.


Hi Jack, all that hive needs is a lot of the drone comb removed on the next inspection. The chooks will love you for it :slight_smile:


Jeff- I just can’t do it! Kill all the unborn drones… I am too soft. But I did take out the two worst drone combs and replace them with fresh foundation. I put them into swarms and will cycle them out altogether later. from now on I am using much more foundation especially in my brood boxes. Today suddenly it is raining after a few really great weeks of sunny weather. Looks like it may rain for a spell now.


Not in my hands. The whole point of splitting is to try to dissuade them from swarming. It depends on how you do it and how careful your inspections are. Sometimes, they swarm anyway, but I think @Dee might say that splits are worthwhile because they prevent the majority of swarms, and then you don’t lose your honey crop. :blush:


I’m sorry…in my opinion this is just another toy to pander to lazy beekeeping. If it worked everybody would have one. The gizmo has been around for three to four years at least.
You have to be pro active to keep bees or else leave them to their own devices in a tree.


Do you just give the chickens the whole frame, wax and all, or somehow harvest out the larvae?

One of my hives has an insane number of drones in it at the moment, and also has a frame full of drone brood! It is one of the empty frames we gave them in the early days. We have learned our lesson and are now pretty much only using foundation!




The same has been said for Flow Frames… for lazy beekeeping…:slight_smile: to actually use the Bandit correctly one will have to inspect and know that their bees are about to swarm. The instructions make clear to not leave it on but to use it when a swarm is expdcted. Beekeepers have been working and inventing things to make it more efficient and effective… for someone like me who intends to maintain a very small apiary of two hives devices like this will help me by not having to buy a lot of extra equipment that I don’t have space to store when not being used, I can see this device being very helpful thank preserving and managing the 2 to be the strongest they can be. Splits mean moving brood and workers and the Queen to start a new hive… I would prefer not to split my hives but to capture and replace any swarms after determining the best Queen. Ps… from attending beekeepers meetings monthly I have found that even the most advanced beekeepers have swarms…


When splits are done the hive it is a false swarm…the queen, workers, brood and honey are removed weakening that hive. The primary hive can become queenless depending on a lot of factors. It may swarm again regardless of how you do the split…so if the objective is to keep the strongest population for a crop, why not leave that brood and some queen cells in the main hive…catch the Swarm and Nuc them to wax out new frames while watching the main hive…after the new Queen event inspect for an active queen and her performance…choose the best of the two, remove the other then merge the workers back to original hive…believe it or not it is real challenging to keep a small strong apiary…


If you artificially swarm removing the brood but leaving the old queen and flyers to rewax new frames you will get a crop from them as if they hadn’t swarmed. Meanwhile your brood box with queen cell/s will produce you a replacement. As for it being a challenge keeping a small strong apiary, of course it is because you are fighting your bees’ urge to reproduce


Now consider, I want to maintain only 2 hives. And I am a hobbiest not interested in building a business of selling nucs…each year I have to manage these 2 to keep them as strong as they can be in order to get my personal supply of honey…me and a few friends…for expanding apiaries splits are like money in the bank…for me they are a nightmare…so are swarms lost …all the equipment storage, no space for more than 1 more hive temporarily…exploding hives are inevitable…my goal is to inspect late winter (if mild again) and make sure there is plenty of laying room…then in early March …then again first week in April…add drawn frames for room if needed…if despite that they are prepping to swarm I will use Bandit…put them in a nuc, wait a few weeks and inspect both…the nuc should have nice drawn comb for posterity…and I will know how the queen is performing…same with main hive…choose a queen…remove the other unless queenlesz already, then merge them back into main hive…by then main flow will be here and honey supers on…


Thanks Dee…now qiestion…
Why is this method better? Not saying it is not…jusy looking for pros and cons…One consideration I see right off the bat is it seems positive for the old Queen to remain in that hive laying… since that have has a new Queen I would think the chances are good that she would be a better stronger Queen then the one that might survive from the Swarm cells… this process seems to shift the risk of Queen failure from the main hive to the nucleus… will the workers that go with the brood not have a tendency to return to the main Hive with the original Queen?


Well, I would still suggest that it depends on how you do the split. Wally Shaw is a very respected and experienced beekeeper who has done a lot of research on a modification of the Snelgrove split. If you look at his presentation, you will see that he describes standard split methods as having a poor success rate at swarm prevention = 50% or less. However, the modified Snelgrove is much better than this. He has a success rate of over 90% in preventing swarming by using this method.

However, your success rate will definitely depend on diligent inspection timing, careful searching for queen cells, and following his description to the letter: