Honey bees on comb

How to Capture a Swarm of Honey Bees!

The weather has remained fairly cool here in Londonderry, with the trees yet to open their buds and only a few early flowers coming up. The Snowdrops are just starting to fade, and the Spring Beauties are putting on a wonderful show. All of this means that our bees are still clustered together in their hive, feeding off of their winter stores of honey.

While the bees will spend all spring, summer and fall turning nectar into honey, it’s the early spring pollen that helps sustain them at this time of year. The same bees that have spent a long winter keeping the hive toasty warm for the queen will start collecting tree pollen as soon as it’s available, signaling to the queen to start laying eggs. Soon that small cluster of bees will grow into tens of thousands of bees, and the hives will be bursting again!
Honey bees on comb

Sometimes the hives grow beyond capacity, and the bees decide to split off and form a new hive somewhere else. When that happens they’ll start making a new queen, fill their bellies with honey and send out a signal to leave the hive. They entrust scout bees to find a new home for all of them, settling somewhere (usually a tree branch nearby the old hive) while they wait for the queen to decide where to go. Depending on where they’ve settled, an enterprising beekeeper can sometimes capture them and form a whole new hive! Simply by shaking most of the bees into a new hive box (and, most importantly, making sure that the queen is in there too), the entire swarm of bees will start marching in to the new hive. That’s what Aden did in the video below, filmed a few years back when we were still in Rhode Island.

What was especially remarkable about filming this was knowing Aden’s lifelong fear of bees. It was something he had inherited from his mother, and it wasn’t until he decided to start raising bees that he finally got past it. From someone who used to jump at the sound of a black fly buzzing around the picnic table thinking it might be a bee to now calmly collecting a few thousand of them, he has certainly come a long way! We hope you enjoy this video! Don't forget to check out our Honey & Syrups page for our Vermont maple syrup and honey!


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.