advice needed about a swarm please

I have been offered a swarm which will be collect and kept in a box overnight as I cant get there till tomorrow morning.  what’s the best thing to do?  transfer them to the hive as soon as I can in the morning, wait till it warms up a little or leave them till the evening?  any advice and suggestions would be really welcome.


About walthambees

I am a complete novice to bee keeping - eager to learn, willing to try, happy to acknowledge that I know little and prepared to write about that in the hope that others will share their wisdom and experiences!
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11 Responses to advice needed about a swarm please

  1. jen3972 says:

    Hi there, I always try and get the bees into their final dwelling as soon as possible so they can settle. A hive is probably a more appealing place for the bees to be, so I would decant them as soon as you get them (unless it pouring with rain or blowing a gale) and then shut the lid and leave them. I think leaving them in a box til the evening runs the risk of scouts finding a better place or them starting to build comb in there, but I’m happy to be corrected!

  2. simplebees says:

    I would place the box where the hive is going to be and hive the bees late afternoon tomorrow. I have tried hiving bees in the morning and find it less successful than hiving in the late afternoon/early evening. Don’t be surprised if there is already a small amount of comb in the box by the time you hive them. If it has some honey in it, place it inside the hive on the floor if you can or, if not, immediately in front of the entrance for the bees to remove the honey.

    Gareth, Cotswolds

    • simplebees says:

      Since my suggestion contradicts the prior post, perhaps I should add that I have found hiving swarms in the morning leads to much more flying around and a generally more tardy entrance to the hive. But I always walk my swarms in; I don’t tip them into the hive. In nature swarms don’t find themselves suddenly decanted into a cavity in which they are expected to stay, they fly to the cavity and walk in. It’s that last bit of that that I am seeking to replicate.

      Gareth, Cotswolds

      • jen3972 says:

        For the record, I put my bees in to a nuc box with frames so I tip them straight from the skep in to the box or shake the swarm directly in to the box, hence no need for walking in – because of where I live, I have to get my bees “in” as soon as possible and I haven’t had much luck with them walking in! But then of course I am using frames so I guess it would be different for another type of hive, which perhaps I should have mentioned in my previous post :-/ sorry everyone. We all have our methods and it’s interesting and valuable to hear different views? Good luck with hiving your swarm howsoever you choose to do it 🙂

  3. walthambees says:

    thanks Gareth. I was thinking that walking in might keep things calmer. the first swarm I housed arrived as it was getting dark and it seemed better to get them in as quickly as possible before it got too cold. I have seen video of people doing the walking in thing but will have to do this on my own. presumably I need to secure one end of the sheet to the opening so that the bees climb up towards the hive and in through the entrance. what can go wrong I ask myself……I will report back tomorrow night

  4. simplebees says:

    This discussion is useful to others because it shows how we each have our own approach tailored to our circumstances and experiences. Of some two dozen swarms that I have walked in over the last two years only one has absconded and that was the one that I hived in the morning! I re-hived it in the evening and all was fine. I read on bee fora, and hear from others, about swarms absconding and my personal impression is that absconding occurs more often when bees are tipped into a new hive. However, I have not done a comparison by tipping my own swarms into hives, so I cannot draw a firm conclusion and, as with all things, the experiences of others may be different.

    Securing the sheet: I put a piece of board slopping up to the hive entrance and tape the sheet (duct tape or parcel tape) to the front of the hive just below the entrance if it looks like slipping. If hiving into a Warré, move the bottom box forward a little to give a gap the width of the box – this allows the bees plenty of space to enter and also forms a ledge below which the bees will cluster before entering. Move the box back to its normal position the next morning. If using a horizontal hive, tape a spare top bar just above the entrance to form a ledge. Otherwise the bees may cluster up the side of the hive and be reluctant to move back downwards, especially if the queen is in the cluster above the entrance.

    Watch carefully for the queen. You may well see her suddenly emerge from under a knot of bees are run (sometimes literally) into the hive. It’s a wonderful sight.

    Good luck

    Gareth, Cotswolds

  5. walthambees says:

    So far so good….collected bees this am and shook box into hive rather than try and walk them in as realised that was a moment when they might fly off. Most went in and within 10 minutes were moving in and out of the entrance. An hour later the ones still in the box had stayed put – was the queen there or in hive? Decided not to put on the temporary queen excluder (advice from previous homing) but turned box so upright, went away and……an hour later the box was empty and there are now bees coming and going as if they’ve been there all their lives. My plan now is no queen excluder and leave them to settle for at least a week before I even peek thro the observation window. Thanks for all the advice and thought you all offered.

  6. jen3972 says:

    Congratulations! Out of interest, which type of hive have you used to house this swarm?

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