...Edited in some photos... Note that it is hard to see all the bees flying around, but they were there!
I apologize for the long post, but I am pretty excited about my first swarm capture today! Successful and stingless!
I got a call from some friends from out of town today. They described masses of bees flying around an old maple tree in their yard. The tree was known to have a feral colony in a hollow branch about 20 feet up. They said that the bees had calmed down a bit, but were clustering on the house, on the tree, and still flying around a bit.
Original feral hive entrance:http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150144804/
I called another friend from work who used to keep bees to see if he had any empty hives available, and to see if he wanted the swarm even, but he was not at home.
I started my first hive 3 weeks ago today from a nuc, and I really only have enough equipment for 1 hive, but I have not put my second deep on yet. I did not want to pull any frames of honey or brood from my new hive because I don't think it is strong enough for that yet. I tried to think of how I could manage with just a deep and no honey. I recently bought some totes that are just about the same size as a medium super. (I am playing around with some ideas on how to use them for extracting, but that is still a work in progress...) I realized that the covers from the totes would work as emergency top and bottom boards. So I grabbed my veil, gloves, smoker, brush, deep, totes, and a pollen cake I had left that my nuc did not seem to need, called back the friends with the swarm and asked them to get some 1:1 sugar water ready for me. (I managed to forget a spray bottle for the sugar water, but it turned out all right anyway.)
When we got there, there was no definite swarm mass, but there were plenty of bees flying around and clustering here and there on the tree. There was a big hole about 6-7 feet up, and I was afraid that they had already moved into it. It was pretty open though, and while there were plenty of bees flying in and out, it did not look like they were settling in. I noticed a clump of 30 or so bees just above it, but did not think much of it at the time.
The big hole:http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150144894/
I poured some of the sugar water in and on my deep (with a tote cover as a bottom) and set it up on top of a table and large tote just under the large hole, hoping to entice them in. (Note that not long after I got there, I took off my gloves and veil because, while the bees were flying all around, they were not aggressive at all.) A few minutes after doing that I noticed that the small clump of bees had moved around and down the trunk a bit. I took a quick look and saw a queen in the middle of them!!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150145092/
I carefully brushed the small cluster into a tote and tried to get them into my deep. I got her majesty in, but the attendants got scattered in the process. I figured that the bees would find her, but after a few minutes she tried to fly away. I caught her with the tote and brush as she left and put her back, then put the tote upside down on top of the deep, kind of as a see through bubble, with enough room for bees to come in one end. After about 20 minutes a couple bees had come in, but did not seem too interested in her. (She was still hanging around near the top of a frame.) http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150145011/
By this point there were still many bees just flying around. I noticed the drone congregation area near the foot of the tree, and that made me realize that I did not need to leave the box up on the table anymore since I had the queen already. So I moved it to the ground near the drones, took off the tote and placed a tote cover on instead, leaving about an inch of frame showing at one end, and smeared some of the pollen cake on top of the frames.http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150144718/
At this point, or anytime afterwards, the queen may have left, but I am pretty sure that she did not, because the bees slowly but surely began to calm down and make their way into the hive. The really loved the pollen cake, and I am pretty sure that is why the whole thing was so successful and painless. I left them alone for a couple hours and when I checked back later there were bees filling up the beespace around the first 4 or 5 or so frames, with many others scattered on the rest. http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150144601/
There were a few still flying around, and several drones and some workers still at the foot of the tree, but I did not see the queen there. I also checked for her in and around the hole in the tree. I put my veil and gloves back on, smoked them a bit, stapled screen to the top and bottom of my deep, (wish I had just stapled it to the bottom ahead of time,) and brought home my new bees 3 weeks to the day after I got my nuc. http://www.flickr.com/photos/29258782@N00/150144148/
I nabbed the top feeder from my nuc hive (I was just using it to water them anyhow to keep them out of the neighbor's swimming pool) and put it on the new hive at the other end of my property on top of a porch roof. This is only temporary until I get some new equipment, but I wanted to give them a chance to settle in before I place them near the other hive. I will feed them heavily to start off with, and will look into what if any meds I should give them before I move them again.
Any suggestions on what else I should be doing would be welcome.
I have to go do some shopping. Off to betterbee.com!