Swarm Kit Ready!

As a dedicated beekeeper, swarm season brings both excitement and responsibility. It’s a time when your bees may decide to expand their colony by forming new swarms, and as a beekeeper, you need to be prepared to capture and manage these swarms safely. One of the keys to successful swarm management is being equipped with the right tools and supplies, especially when you’re on the go. Here’s a handy guide on what to keep in your car during swarm season:

  1. Bee Suit and Protective Gear: Safety always comes first when dealing with bees. Keep a full bee suit, including a veil, gloves, and sturdy boots, in your car at all times.
  1. Smoker: A smoker is essential for calming bees during swarm retrieval or hive inspections. Make sure your smoker is fueled and ready to go whenever you’re out beekeeping. I prefer to prep beforehand and I keep smoker fuel ready to go for when I need it.

3. Hive Tools: Pack your car with hive tools such as a hive tool for prying apart frames, a bee brush (or turkey feather) for gently moving bees off frames.

4. Queen Clip: Don’t forget the rubber bands! The queen will slip right out of that thing if you don’t strap it up! You might want to bring a paint pen with you to mark her as well. You will never know how old a queen is from a swarm but at least you can create your own system so you recognize your queens.

Swarm in a bush at my home

5. Empty Hive Boxes: I use a ProNuc box because it’s portable, light, and easy to use. There’s a place on the top where you can use a jar to feed the new swarm some sugar water. You can leave them in there a couple days but make sure you store them in a place where there is no rain. You can also use an EZ Nuc and some folks use a wooden box.

Hunter Museum Bees

6. A Honey Frame: If you have one! A honey frame can help lure queenless bees into a hive. In my experience, if bees are queenless they’ve been there for a while and they are hungry. That helped in this road swarm that had been there for 5 days

7. Bee Swarm Lure: A swarm lure (Swarm Commander) can be a valuable tool for attracting swarms to a desired location. Some beekeepers keep a bottle of swarm lure or a lure trap in your car to help entice swarms to settle where you want them. I haven’t had a ton of success using this method. I normally bring a honey frame with me and that works better.

8. Beekeeping Toolkit: Pack a small toolkit containing essentials like a multi-tool, hand shears, duct tape, hive tool, knife, zip ties. Ladder! These versatile items can come in handy for various unexpected situations while out in the field. I get mine from Harbor Freight because they are usually pretty cheap.

Some swarms are just too high

9. First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen, especially when working with bees. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your car to handle any minor injuries quickly and efficiently.

10. Water and Snacks: Beekeeping can be physically demanding work, so don’t forget to pack plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and fueled throughout the day. DON’T FORGET SNACKS AND WATER!

11. Cone or Signage: Story of the ground swarm with the beekeeper, the onlookers, and the thieves. What did we learn? Put a cone by the swarm or a sign that says “Live Bees” or caution or SOMEthing so people leave it alone. Maybe add your phone number? Maybe don’t leave the bees there alone and wait until you collect them all before leaving the site.

14. Fanny Pack or Bag: I like to keep a bag around my waste in case I need something immediately. I usually keep a knife, Epi pen, headlamp, and lavender essential oil.

15. Contact Information: Finally, make sure you have contact information for local beekeeping associations, experienced beekeepers, and professional bee removal services handy. In case you encounter a swarm that you’re unable to manage on your own, having someone to call for assistance can be invaluable.

By keeping these essential supplies in your car during swarm season, you’ll be well-prepared to handle any beekeeping challenges that come your way. Remember to stay calm, cautious, and respectful of the bees as you work to manage swarms and maintain healthy colonies. Happy beekeeping!