We caught our first swarm of bees on or about April 12th! Yes, instead of chasing swarms, we decided to build some bait hives and have the bees come to us. Based on research found in Dr. Thomas Seeley’s book Honeybee Democracy (a great read even for non-beekeepers), information provided by Dr. Leo Sharashkin at the NC/SC State Beekeepers Spring Conference, and a presentation by C.L. Gobble at the Five County Beekeepers Association earlier this year; Steve Debevec and I took some old 8-frame deep equipment and converted them into three bait hives. This was done by adding a top and bottom board, inserting one frame of old drawn comb (with the rest of the box filled with empty frames), boring an entrance hole and using lemon grass oil in a slow release tube as an attractant (which supposedly mimics the bee’s natural homing pheromone). The bait hives were “installed” (strapped about 15 feet up into trees) on March 26th.
Because the bees think of the bait hive as their new home and our garden apiary was only a few hundred feet away from this bait hive, it was not recommended to move them so close by immediately. This is because the forager bees would immediately return to the tree where the bait hive was located. So, we moved the bait hive to Gene’s apiary about 8 miles away. A good rule of thumb I was told was to try to move the bees at least 6 miles away. This is because a bee typically can forage up to 3 miles away, therefore moving the bees 6 miles away should ensure the forage areas would not overlap.
We waited about 10 days and then installed them in our garden apiary. Even after this re-orientation period, we noticed probably close to 100 bees flying around the original bait hive tree within minutes of the installation. However, by the next day, they had all stopped flying around the original tree/site, hopefully deciding to go back to their new home.
By the way, a swarm colony like this probably would retail from $150 to $180.