Catching Native bee swarms
Guest post by Dean Haley
With the right bait and a bit of luck it is possible to capture fighting swarms.
My first fighting swarm occurred when I had just separated an eduction hive from its mother. At first I did not know if I had some sort of mating swarm, or if my two newly separated colonies were at war. I decided to save my established colony which was under attack by sealing it up that night and moving it. I left the new eduction hive in place with a theory that either it would requeen, or the invading hive would queen it for me. Strangely, the invader ignored this nearly defenseless new box and chose to inhabit my water meter box instead. They were hockingsi bees and I later boxed them.My next fighting swarm attacked a newly split box. I moved the box and decided to put a bait box in its place. I had a styrofoam stubby cooler box that I had attempted to use for an eduction once. It had a little bit of wax and resin in that box though not much. I put some more wax around the entrance and with Robert Luttrells advice a few honey and pollen pots inside. Although the attacking swarm kept coming in large numbers they would not enter the styrofoam box and claim their prize. I was frustrated and started to think what trigger do these bees need? I placed some brood inside and within days the bees were invading and setting up home. These were carbonaria bees, and when I had plenty of bees, stores and a queen I closed them up one night and moved them. Free bees.
Meanwhile, I had placed another stubby cooler eduction style on a colony and had a nice smelly sticky box ready to go. I put this new bait box, with a small piece of brood in that spot where attacking swarms were still harassing. I captured another carbonaria colony.I tried for a third capture but was unsuccessful.The swarm captures both occurred when Matt Keir was here doing studies on fighting swarms. There will be another chapter in this story when his studies are published. His studies are ongoing as of October 2015. He still needs fighting swarms to study so if you want to participate his email address is [email protected]