Every beekeeper knows that swarm season is in the spring, but since bees don’t have a calendar, they swarm when they are ready. Swarming is an instinct of a healthy colony that has outgrown its current home and decides to split in two, with half staying, and half leaving to find a new spot to call home. The reason this often happens in the spring is due to the existing colony population growing exponentially in the spring, sometimes to a point over overpopulation. Many beekeepers worry about swarming as it sets back honey production, but in the life of a colony, a swarm means healthily bees, and these days that’s something we need more of.
Next week I am going to set out a swarm trap, hoping to provide a home to half a colony that has recently decided to depart for better living conditions. Most beekeepers would think me nuts for doing this, but I’m going to try for a number of reasons:
- I built a nuc box, but was unable split one of my colonies into a nuc due to bad timing
- The nuc box will make an excellent swarm trap
- I have nothing to loose and everything to gain
So next week I will set a ladder up into a tree and tie up the swarm trap. I’ll bait it with some lemon grass oil, and see what happens. If I don’t get anything I’ll take it down in the fall. If I do get a swarm, I’ll nurse them though the winter, and hopefully will have an extra colony in the spring to use or give away.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Update: For those that asked, I built my own swarm trap out of some scrap wood, but added a feature where it can hold five medium frames. This allows the trap to become a nuc without disturbing the bees. The only part I bought was a metal nuc disk, as I don’t like using anything plastic in my hives.