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What do with a swarm

Ive been trying to figure out what you do if say you are small time hobbyist keeper with 1-3 hive and you either capture a swarm from your hives, or maybe get called to collect a swarm? do you generally keep them in the capture box and give them to another keeper or sell them or something? particularly if you do intend on keeping the swarm or dont have a spare hive for them yet.


I’m a swarm hoarder so I keep them. Swarms are wax drawing fools! Drawn wax comb is gold to a beekeeper!


I capture the swarm and feed them for about a week because as @Red_Hot_Chilipepper says, they will build comb at a phenomenal rate. I then generally merge/combine them back into another original hive.


Oh ok, what about the queen from the swarm?

Build them up for a couple of months in a form of quarantine and check for disease. Keep or sell the good ones, re-queen the temperamental colonies then keep or re-sell. I have a hive hosting side of the honey business and so many end up on other properties.


Sorry, should clarify my response as I read it as if one of your own hives swarm, not collecting ‘wild’ swarms.

I would never merge a collected swarm back into a hive without quarantining and determining if there is disease, even then I’d be unlikely to merge into my hives.

I basically do what @Rodderick has summarised with building up / requeening etc.

We did about 70-80 swarms last season, I’d have a pretty busy backyard if I kept them all :grinning:

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G’day Wayne, after the quarantine side of things, I keep them basically for producing brood. If they are good gentle bees, I get the bees to produce queens from their eggs. Having a spare nuc can be a little bit like having spare money stashed away. You never know when you might need it.

ok, so just keep them in a box on their own accord if you dont have a hive to put them in kinda thing? Oh and would you plastic storage container be ok to use as a swarm box temporarily?

I think I’d prefer a poly styrene fruit box or even a cardboard fruit box with an entrance cut at the bottom. That would be very short term unless you can find a way to support 4or5 frames in it. Otherwise all the comb they build in the box itself will be just wasted effort.

Ok, just I dont see myself going over 2 hives in the next 12 months due to room, but if for example I got asked to collect a swarm, would like to have an idea of what to do, I aways wondered what the people do who have only 2 or so hives…


Your colony needs to reproduce so it will eventually make swarm preparations. There is nothing you can do about that except keep taking brood frames away…but then you don’t want another hive. So give them away. As for collecting other folks’ swarms just say you can’t do it…easy.
I know you say you don’t want two colonies but spare it some thought. A second colony is always there to get the first out of trouble…losing a queen is an example


Hi Dee. I am planning on having 2 on this property, 3 is my limit. I would then probably have to look for somewhere else to put them.

We often run into people when collecting swarms that want us to pay them for the swarm because they think it is some huge money making scheme. I can say fairly certainly, even if you build them up for resale, you’ll end up at less than minimum wage for your time and materials!

We collect swarms because we genuinely believe as beekeepers that making the service available for free improves the public perception of beekeeping and people are less inclined to see bee swarms as ‘pests’. Some local councils don’t allow beekeeping on urban blocks, mainly because of the swarming concerns.

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Yeah understand that. I Did all the checks with the local council and they actually encourage beekeeping due to is being a garden city.

I guess that brings the second question of how do you go about getting a secondary site? I have some friends and family who have rural properties I can ask. Is that the general way? Ask around.

Aha…an out apiary beckons.
So the disease progresses :wink:

Indeed and that is what we should do if we are able, and most of us do


Lol already have plans… I guess it has set un

Out apiaries have been a thought of mine too more so in the burbs than out in the country. The main reason is travel to and from site. I think I remember =< 1/2 an hour being discussed as a good distance between sites. Having to travel once a week or fortnight to do inspections is time I don’t have available.
The suburbs seem to have more nectar available for the bees than out bush but finding somewhere close with unrestricted access for yourself but not others can be tricky I’d imagine. Local councils would also like a cut of your hard work too.
Plenty of adds in the classifieds for beeks after yards to put hives in return for honey.
I think I’ll just steadily, and quietly, build my empire at home.


I may do something similar. My issue is we have sick and sadistic neighbors who are known for false complaints and things (long story) so need to be careful. I dont leave too far from reasonably open places and that, makes me wish the family still had the farm…

So I had a thought tick through the empty space between my ears today. I still cant see how people deal with swarms kinda thing, swarming indicates a strong hive=good, but having a swarm weakens the hive=bad. So theres ways to do things before a swarm, splitting, adding supers etc, and after, catching swarm and adding it to hive. Ok say a keeper has 100 hives an no more room, desire, time what have you, they find a swarming hive, what would the keeper do? I know keeping it is the answer so far but if you have no room I dont really understand, otherwise couldnt it potentially end up in hundreds if not thousands of hives?