Beekeeping & Wildlife Supplies, Cornwall, South West UK

Swarm Catching

Swarm catching with a skep

Being in the middle of a swarm of bees is, we think, one of the most exciting experiences of being a beekeeper!
Dealing with and catching a swarm is also always rewarding.
A skep is a very useful piece of equipment for catching swarms. Available here - Skep
For example, when a swarm has settled on an easily accessible branch, a skep makes easy work of catching the swarm.
Simply hold the inverted skep underneath the swarm cluster, then shake the swarm into the upturned skep.
Place the skep carefully on a board or sheet of cloth on the ground and allow the flying bees to re-join those in the skep.
When the bees have settled, the entrance of the skep can be blocked and the skep secured to the board or sheet before moving to be hived.

The image above shows a much more awkward scenario when the flexibility of the straw skep proves invaluable.
This particular swarm clustered between two fences, impossible to shake into a skep.
In this case, the skep was squeezed to fit between the fences (it could alternatively be secured with string, for example) and positioned as close to the clustered bees as possible.
Then the technique of 'smoke driving' can be used. Ensuring the bee smoker is producing large amounts of cool, dense smoke, it is used to drive the bees upwards into the skep. It takes a while but gradually they all start to crawl upwards into the cavity of the skep.
The image below shows the same swarm, about 30 minutes later, all clustered inside the skep.
We then carefully 'poured' the bees into a Nucleus Box for easy transportation. Available here - Nucleus Box
Job done!

Swarm of bees caught in a skep

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