By , on May 18th, 2010

Catching the first swarm in 2010

I got my first swarm call yesterday. Since I paid $70 each for a 3 lb package, I decided to go after it. The bee truck was in the field lab, so I drove my own car to Lansing, with two visiting scientists, Dr. R.W.K. Punchihewa (Sri Lanka) and Toan van Tran (Vietnam).

it was about 10 miles from my office. I asked my students to give me bee equipment, but decided to use a paper box to catch the swarm first. A paper box has 2 advantages: 1. it is much lighter so it is easier to handle and 2. it is easier to be sealed to be bee-proof.

We arrived around 6:30 pm and called the owner. The nice coupled observed on their deck. The swarm, originally said to be 3 ft long, was now about 1 ft long, but on a small apple tree so it was very easy to get.

1. Punchi has a veil and  holds the box

2. Tran is ready to give a good shake to drop the bees into the box.

3. about 3 good shakes, most bees went into the box, the box lid is placed back and taped up. I was taking photos…a few bees flew around my head, but nobody got stung

4. Punchi cutting the tape to transfer the bees to the hivebody

5. Shaking the bees to the new home.

6. Basically done…I thought I took a few after this….but they are not now on my computer…

Two things made this an easy swarm to catch: 1). the height is about the max we can get without a ladder or chair. Ladder or chair both increase instability and the risk of one falling. 2). the small size of the branch. if too large, it is impossible to bent and shake. Brushing or scooping bees into the box will lose many more bees. we left about 500 bees on the branch. For more swarm harvesting photos, visit

Zachary Huang, Michigan State University

2 comments to Catching the first swarm in 2010

  • Bob DeMerell

    I wonder if you want to come to Dexter…I’ve got a swarm forming on the east side of my house near the top, approx. 25 feet in the air. They are all flying around frantically trying to figure out where they are supposed to go. I called our pest control, Orkin, and they can’t come by until next Tuesday. I’m pretty sure there idea will be to spray some toxic stuff in their general vicinity and hope that they die. I like your solution — I don’t want to kill the bees, I just don’t want them stinging me or my kids, or nesting in my eaves for that matter. Can you do anything?


    Submitted on 2010/06/24 at 4:08am

    Bob, sorry I just saw your comment today (after logging in). somehow I did not get an email alerting me of your comment. Hopefully, the bees are already gone!

    Zachary (in China).

  • Robert

    URGENT! Please come to Brooklyn, MI ASAP. We have a foreclosed home next to us and there is a MASSIVE honey bee (I think) colony. They have made a nest in the forclosed home BUT thousands leave the home during the heat of the day and have made a “home away from home” on a bush that is right next to our property. At times they hang almost 5-6 feet in length! I can send you pictures and also video if this would help. Contact me via email ASAP before the mortgage company for the foreclosed property hire an exterminator. I will check my email several times a day and will provide my phone number once you write back. THANK YOU.

    anybody here close to Brooklyn, MI? Rob’s email is

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