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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Impossible Swarm

Tonight I got a swarm call.  Swarm season has begun.

I was thrilled because my hive at the Morningside Community Garden has died and I want to have a hive at that community garden.  The beehive makes for a good ambassador for beekeeping and it's educational for the people who come by the garden.

So I got the call at 8 PM and headed off to Oakdale Road, a street very close to me.  It was almost dark and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find the bees although the caller said they were on a shrub about a foot from the ground near the sidewalk.

I arrived and quickly found the bees, but OH, what a DIFFICULT swarm to capture.  It was in a shrub with tiny branches from the main trunk.  The branches came out of the trunk all the way down to the ground.  There was nothing to cut or shake and the bees were on about twelve branches all together.  The swarm was the size of a fat football.

I put a white sheet right up against the swarm which, although the top of it was about a foot from the ground, was actually sitting right on the ground.

This out of focus photo was taken with my cell phone.  I cut all of those branches sticking out from the swarm so I could get close to it.  

A very sweet relatively new beekeeper named Anne had seen the bees while running and made the swarm call, so she came to see me "get" the swarm.  I am so very, very grateful.  If it weren't for her and her deft use of the flashlight, I might still be over there trying to scoop up bees. 

I used my milk carton scoop to try to scoop the bees but only a few tablespoons of them were in the milk carton at a time to dump into the box.  This was because the bees were not just on one branch of the shrub to be easily scooped off.  Instead every scoop ran into the multitude of branches.  It was just about hopeless.

I put my box at an angle right up against it and shook what I could into it.

I put a ventilated top on the box and left about a 1/2 inch opening.  Some bees were doing the nasonov dance on the edge of the box, but I don't think I got the queen.  

I got stung (an unusual thing to happen while trying to collect a swarm) at least 15 times - maybe 20.  I counted eight on my hands and arms, four on my stomach, and I haven't looked at my legs yet but there are at least five there.  

In the end I left the box with the opening there right next to the swarm.  I'll go in the morning before work.  At best, I will find all the bees happily in the box.  At worst, I'll find the box, sheet and bees all gone.  At medium, I'll find all the bees out of the box and back surrounding their queen.  

Driving home I got stung two more times!  My car was full of random bees when I locked it up at my house and went inside and had a beer.

If tomorrow they are back on the shrub, good luck to them.  I hope they find a happy home, but it won't be at the Morningside community garden!!!!!

PS.  Post a bath and a beer the only stings still evident are one on my right hand and three on my left hand (the one that was doing the scooping).  As this is my 10th year of beekeeping, it makes sense that my immunity to stings has grown.  The four that I can still see  happened early in the process when I couldn't scrape the stinger out.  One on my left hand drew blood, which means the stinger hit a small blood vessel, probably, and that would cause more of a reaction.


  1. How's the swarm? I'm entering into my first year as a beekeeper and I'm so excited! You're posts are always entertaining and informative!

  2. Looking forward to an update! I would think that swarms who have been out on their journey for a day or longer are much more likely to sting as their honey reserves are metabolized. A fresh swarm is incredibly docile and cohesive, you can shake them off their perch in gobs (caught my first swarms ever last summer, and I know one had been out in the bushes for a day or two).

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. güzel oğul.acaba kaç çıta?mutlusunuz.karanlıkta ve yerde olması ilginç.arının cinsi nedir?

    1. I'm sorry but Google translate did not translate this from Turkish.


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