Border Bees Diary

Diary of a Beekeeper in the Scottish Borders


Posted by borderglider on May 24, 2008

Spotted my first swarm by a roadside in the Borders yesterday – a ‘prime swarm’ near another beekeepers apiary – he collected it shortly afterwards. It seems likely that the only swarms we are seeing these days are ‘escapees’ from managed colonies in beekeeper’s apiaries – since wild or feral colonies will have been killed by varroa mites.

Prime Swarm on an Elderberry Tree: May 23 2008

Pillar of Bees: Swarm on a Barbed-Wire fence at my old Apiary – 2001

This was my most challenging swarm to date – at my old Apiary near Dunbar in Scotland. This large swarm chose to cluster on a barbed wire fence – on a post wrapped around with both barbed wire and square sheep fencing. Took me the best part of an hour to coax them upwards into a straw skep – using a combination of ‘drumming’ on the wooden post – and wafting smoke over the lower part of the swarm.

They did eventually climb up into the skep and I later set this on a white bedsheet – leaving them to settle down until evening, when I lifted bedsheet and skep and hived them in a new home.

Straw skep placed on fence to tempt the swarm into taking up residence. I smeared the inside of the skep with honey and also tacked a piece of comb in there to give them something to grip onto.

Swarms are ‘usually’ gentle and non-stinging

If any non-beekeepers come across a swarm – it’s important to understand that swarms are not ‘dangerous’ and in fact they are usually very gentle and non aggressive. They are simply not interested in any passing humans – and they are filled with honey to provision their new home. If you see a swarm, alert a local beekeeper – the local council or police will often have a list of beekeepers, who will be only too happy to come and remove the swarm to a new home.


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