Swarm trapping is another aspect to free bees that entails catching that runaway swarm even when I'm not around and in places I can't always be. I've had my share of experiences where the swarm departed for some unknown destination, and then I've wondered about the swarms that come out of bee trees in remote areas where no human being was able to discover them and call me. And what about the swarms that people find but they don't know who to call? Eventually those swarms will leave for a hollow tree or somebody's garden shed. How can I get those swarms I don't even know about? Then I began to think about creating some kind of a temporary location that would attract the scout bees so I wouldn't necessarily have to be present to retrieve the swarm, or if I arrived a minute too late, how I might still catch that swarm by setting a trap over the hill or in various locations around the community? Think about it. You get a swarm call. The swarm has left the hive and is clustered on a rose bush in someone's yard. There's a scared and nervous homeowner who wants the bees removed right now. The scout bees are out looking for a new location which they can call home. The scout bees are searching diligently as you ask some simple questions over the phone about how high the swarm is and how long they've been there. You get organized and start to drive to the swarm site. As you drive to the swarm location, the scout bees begin to narrow down their criteria for the best site. You hit a red light at the intersection. The swarm cluster begins to unwind and take off. You pull over for a funeral procession on the highway. The swarm cluster flies away to a tree about a half mile from the swarm site and they begin to fill the knot hole in a hollow tree, unbeknownst to anyone in the neighborhood. No one has seen them enter that old tree. You pull up to the swarm site. The nervous homeowner, still in a state of shock as he witnessed the unwinding swarm, mutely points to the few stranglers, the confused scout bees that missed the swarm's departure for the new site. And you realize you're about five minutes too late. You curse the red lights you refused to run (probably a good thing!). So you sit around for a few more minutes and visit with the homeowner figuring the whole experience has been nothing but a waste of time. You can't begin to explain to the homeowner what really happened. They wouldn't understand. You vainly scan the sky hoping the swarm is still around. The homeowner wants to know where they went to, hoping they left for somewhere else. But you're not really sure. All you really know is they are gone and you have nothing to show for your interest. And so you leave with that empty feeling of being a day late and a dollar short. Again. I've had so many of these experiences over the years that I got to thinking on how to create a box, an artificial cavity to mimic a hollow tree that would attract the bees so I didn't have to be everywhere at the same time. I could space out several of these boxes around the county to catch those bees that get away. I could have a dummy hive, a bait box to attract those swarms that no one sees. It would be a decoy box that would house the swarm until I found time to check it and move it at my convenience.
About the Author
Grant F. C. Gillard began keeping bees on the family farm in Glenville, Minnesota, after graduating from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with a degree in Agriculture in 1981. While in his sophomore year, seeking the easiest class possible to elevate his battered grade-point average, Grant ignored his advisor's derision and enrolled in a seemingly innocuous class entitled, "Entomology 222: Beekeeping," taught by a retired high school biology teacher and adjunct professor, Richard Trump. Without grasping the potential blessings and lifelong implications this providential twist presented to his academic life, Grant was hopelessly inoculated with the desire to keep honey bees, which would later include visions of commercial aspirations.
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