I had an old boss who use to tell me every job takes 15 minutes. It didn't matter what type of work was involved in the job they all took 15 minutes. I find that very annoying especially when it took longer than that which of course every job did.
I will not lie to you. Even a simple swarm job can be quite laborious.
I got a call from the gentleman who I had removed bees from before. This time at his place of employment. He mentioned that some bees were hanging out on a pipe. They had arrived a little bit ago and was I interested. Sure I was interested. Despite the fact that I am running out of screened bottom boards and I need to make more tops and SHB are getting into my hives as fast as they can. One swarm I should be able to put that in a nuc box and it shouldn't take to long. Maybe just 15 minutes.
Well I arrived and there was there rather large swarm hanging on a fire sprinkler main pipe. Just looking for a new home. They weren't staying there for long.
Now one of the neatest ways to catch a swarm is to either basically bang the branch into the box or take string and cause them to dump in the box as you run the string across the branch. It is rather effective especially if you wet the bees down with sugar water first.
Some notes on using sugar water. When you wet the bees down with it. The bees immediately form an outer protective layer. This keeps the inner bees dry. The inner bees also get very defensive. If you break the outer layer the inner bees come out mad as hell. This is why when you have a feral hive on a tree branch and it has been raining you leave it alone. The difference being is there are a lot more bees in a hive than with a swarm.
The trick with catching a swarm is you are using hostile means to convince them to live in the place of your choosing thus overriding whatever the scout bees may be looking for. This is not as horrible as it sounds since bees in swarm mode want a home. Think of it as high pressure real estate tactics.
Some where in the middle of that pile is a queen. She is heavy doesn't fly well and is easily tired. A perfect victim for a high pressure sales pitch.
The high pressure sales pitch I had in mind was to use a medium nuc (thanks brushy mountain) with a screened bottom board. Use a large piece of plastic and some duct tape and staples.
I tape the top of the plastic just below the swarm. and place the open nuc on the flow box and valve below so it was secured. I made the plastic like a slide into the nuc. and put a few staples in it to secure it to the nuc.
Now in the ideal world when you run the string the queen falls into the box and the majority of the bees.
Now if you look at the pipe you might see a point where a another pipe connects to it on the side. That point has a collar around the pipe and just like a swarm on a tree branches can interrupt the smooth flow of your string. And it certainly did here.
I sprayed the bees down. Then ran the string which stopped at the collar. I probably had 70% of the bees fall into the box but the majority of them were not wet and they started flying out and expressing their displeasure. After about two minutes many of them had gathered on the pipe again. The wet ones still in the nuc. Another quick spray and string time and more are in the box.
Now I have a good portion in the box the rest are flying around confused. This is my chance at selling them my home. I had five pieces of preped permacomb with me.
I put them in the nuc and put on the lid. I then move the box onto a ledge right next to the pipe. Now there are a majority of bees in there and the rest are close to it flying around. After about 10 minutes you can see the bees gathering on the nuc.
I whip out my lease agreement have the bees sign it and tell them I will leave the box here until dark and then I have to relocate the home to a better location. Bees start moving in furniture and all.
I came back at 9pm. I thought the bees had absconded because there was not one bee on the outside of the nuc. I then picked up the nuc which weighed quite a bit. My wife looks up through the screen bottom and says "They are definitely in there."
The bees take a road trip and are now flying pollen in and out.
Pictures can be seen here.http://www.brendhanhorne.com/coppermine_dir/displayimage.php?album=140&pos=3