The first thing people ask when they hear you are a beekeeper is…where do you get bees?
You can buy them or get them for free.
Free bees could be gifted from another beekeeper or caught in the wild during swarm season.
To catch a nearby swarm you will need a bait hive. A bait hive is basically just a box, usually made of wood with an entrance small enough for bees to enter. These can be placed into trees or on stands in the wild to attract homeless bees. Some bee trappers use a luring agent like lemon grass or swarm lure. Many experienced beekeepers just leave out some old brood comb near the trap entrance or leave a used beehive brood box near a fallen log or tree.
For comprehensive instructions on building and installing your bait hives and swarm traps, check out the guy who wrote the book on the subject.
Get the E- book Swarm Traps and Bait Hives by: YouTuber McCartney Taylor
If you are lucky enough to be alerted to a swarm in beard formation on a nearby branch or fence line, it is your lucky day. Bees are at their gentlest during this time and respond very well to being captured. You can call your local police and fire departments to be added to their swarm capture alert list to be called upon when a swarm is spotted in public.
Some beekeepers choose to remove the swarm manually and some choose to bait the hive. Sometimes a swarm removal can be the easiest way to get bees.
Want to save even more money?
Make your own swarm lure that doubles as a wood polish-
1/2 cup melted beeswax
1/2 cup olive oil or linseed oil
20 drops lemongrass essential oil
Mix together and rub onto wooden box. protects wood and lures bees to the hive. Use sparingly.
Another way to obtain bees is by doing a hive cut out on someone’s property. This is similar to a swarm removal but a bit more complex. This usually involves cutting into the ceiling or walls of a building to remove a bee hive that has colonized there. This is much more involved than a swarm capture and requires more skill and confidence than a simple swarm removal. You will need basic carpentry tools as well as some construction skills.
Have you ever seen a bee swarm? Have you caught one? What are your tips?