• Español
  • Français
  • English
  • Português

Swarms catching equipment and successful programs -opportunity

Hi everybody! We need your help.

Today we received great news. We have a unique opportunity of working with the firefighter department in a pilot program and try to rescue and relocate hundreds of honey bee swarms and/or stablished colonies that other wise will be destroyed. If the program works, we can take it to the national level.  We will provide the firefighters with swarm catching equipment and training, they will catch the swarms and we will pick them up. We will work directly on the stablished colonies.

Does anybody knows about a similar proyect done anywhere in the world? What is the best equipment for swarm catching ?

Please know that we are fully aware of the need to stablish a management plan once the swarms are catched. We also know the odds of transforming a swarms into a productive hive. We are fully aware of the risk of getting a bunch of bees versus a swarm.

However, we want to try it. 

Any ideas? benchmarking options? equipment tips? Feedback?Funding?

As always thanks.

Ana M Chassoul







We've had a tremendous amount of rain this year in the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina, USA. It washed away a lot of the summer flowers and nectar. Fall is looking better, but we are still in a major dearth.

I'm trying to get information on how much honey or how little folks have harvested around the world. Was your harvest less or more than last year? If it was worse, what do you think the problem was?

Thank you and BEe loved,

Lady Spirit Moon, NC, MH, Certified Beekeeper, andAmbassador for the Center for Honeybee Researchwww.chbr.orgNatural Beekeeper & Educatorwww.BEeHealing.Org443 West Rd.Hot Springs, NC, 28743, USA828-622-0241

Here in Costa Rica, honey production is off by 30%-50% in some cases. Few areas produced what they usually do. No one seems to understand why but everyone suspects same reason- rain.

This is an excellent idea. I guess if they can get cats out of the tree, they can try honeybees. The best equipment I know of is a bee vac (may have to be battery operated) with the hose attached to a vented 5-gal bucket, with a little honey on the bottom covered with a paper towel). That way you can hand the whole thing over to the beekeeper who will then put it into a hive. After the bees are caught, a little water should be misted into the bucket.

I would also ask the fire department if they can fund it and have off-duty fireman do the work.

Just my 2-cents

Lady Spirit Moon

Thank you.Yes, we are looking for a photo or a design of a bee vac that does not require electricity- on batteries.  We are also looking at a bag/bucket/cloth design vesus a wooden box due to heights. Here firefighters are truly wonderful in the sense that they will help us if we give them the right equipment. Its a pilot proyect but we think it can work. Thank you very much for your time and input.

I always used a pillow case, or netted bag and then placed that into a box with a screened bottom, like a nucleus box that you could later fit with frames and release the bees directly onto frames. This is the time that they will pull wax,  a good time to collect or get fresh wax... or to draw out combs on foundation.   Make sure the firefighters have veils and gloves, and a squirt bottle to fill with water or better yet, light 1:1 sugar:water syrup. Smoke is generally not needed but smokers are handy in some cases, to direct bees to go in a certain direction.  Also empty queen cages, to capture the queen, which makes it easier to collect the swarm. (Of course this only works if there is someone who can catch the queen).      If the bees get frantic and they need to kill flying bees, the spray bottle can be filled with soapy water, a fast and clean way to kill insects.   Also the foam from the fire tanks usually have enough soap/surfactant to kill bees, even in the air. We did a video on that with the Root co. 10+ years ago.  Fire depts usually have a 'swarm list' of beekeepers too, to call if need be. Hope this helps,d

Hello everyone,

I am happy to join this group and have had lots of reading to do since I am a late entrant. I practice beekeeping and honey processing in Zimbabwe, but am also involved with working across several beekeeping activities with both rural and urban beekeepers.



May I suggest to start at the end? It is a beekeeper who is interested in the swarms. It may be expected that this local beekeeper provides the local fire department with a cheap and suitable means to catch the swarms. Also he or she might do the catching together with the fire department. There is less hurry compared to a real fire.

Here in the Netherlands bees are mostly kept in wooden or Styrofoam hives, but for catching swarms many use a traditional straw skep or basket. A fine woven basket is cheap and available to every beekeeper worldwide.

 The skep with the majority of the swarm bees is left, open side down, as near as possible to the original place of the swarm. After dark the swarm is completely moved into the skep. Then the bees in the skep are sprayed with some water and covered with a coarse cloth.

At home or in the apiary the swarm is poured and shaken into an empty but closed hive. One or two days later the new hive can be moved gently to its final place. Here it is opened and the swarm can develop into a new productive colony. Take care to have ventilation openings to pass air into the closed hive and keep it in a cool and shaded place. The bees will unite, start building combs  and the chance for absconding is less than when the swarm is put into an open hive directly. It might be necessary to feed the swarm a little to help it develop.


Hello Gerhard,

Interesting way you describe of catching a swarm with the skep hive, thank you !   I understand that the swarm moves into the skep by itself, is that correct ?   Do you put any bait in the skep to attract the bees to the skep ?



With personal experience, you have to move the bees into the Skep by using soft brush, this can only be done during late evening or at night when the temperture is low, in cases where the beekeeper is not in a hurry, catcher box or skep is left near the swam, but must have bait to attract the bees. I have done several program for the oil companies who have been disturbed by wild swam in the oil production fields, cases where they need an urgent bee removal services where quick solutions are needed and its a must for purposes of saving lives of workers.

Its also depends on the experienece and  creativity of the person handing the situation. As mentioned above, the methods varies from place to place, climatic conditions also matters a lot as most of African species are very difficult to handle when temperatures are high and during the day.


Thank you Daniel for this additional information.