How to Introduce Your Bee Swarm to a New Hive

If your bees swarm and you can see where they landed, you can capture them and start a new hive. You may even be lucky enough to get a call from a friend or neighbor who has spotted a wild swarm in his yard (beekeepers are often called to come capture swarms). You can introduce your swarm into a new hive in the following manner:

  1. Decide where you want to locate your new colony.

  2. Set up a new hive in this location.

    You’ll need a bottom board, a deep hive body, ten frames and foundation, an inner cover, an outer cover and a hive-top feeder (or other means for feeding the bees syrup). Keep the entrance wide open (no entrance reducer).

  3. Place a bed sheet in front of the new hive, from the ground to the hive entrance.

    This ramp will help the bees find the entrance to their new home. In lieu of a bed sheet, you can use a wooden plank or any configuration that creates a gang plank for the bees.

  4. Take the box containing the swarm and shake/pour the bees onto the bed sheet, as close to the entrance as possible.

    Some of the bees will immediately begin fanning an orientation scent at the entrance, and the rest will scramble right into the hive.

The swarm of bees (now in their new home) will draw comb quickly because they arrive loaded with honey. Feed them syrup using the hive-top feeder to stimulate wax production. Feeding may not be necessary if the nectar flows are heavy.

In a week, check the hive and see how the bees are doing. See any eggs? If you do, you know the queen is already at work. How many frames of foundation have been drawn into comb? The more the merrier! Is it time to add a second deep?

Finding a swarm and starting a new colony are typically more desireable earlier in the season than later. That’s because late-swarms don’t have much time to grow and prosper before the winter sets in. There’s an old poem of unknown origin that is well-known to beekeepers:

A swarm in May — is worth a load of hay.
A swarm in June — is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm in July — isn't worth a fly.
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