Keeping Honey Bees
In the spring of 2019, I decided to try keeping bees.
Catching a swarm with a bait box
I tried catching a swarm by building a few bait boxes and hanging them in trees. The bait box is just an empty box that is made attractive to a swarm of bees by:
- being dry
- having the right volume
- having the scent of lemongrass oil
I saw a few scout bees investigate my bait boxes, but no swarms moved in.
Capturing a swarm (first attempt)
Later, someone in the local beekeper’s guild got a call about a swarm in a residential neighborhood and offered to help me collect it.
We brushed the bulk of the bees into my bait box, waited about 30 minutes, then closed the entrance. I took the box home and set it in my garden. The next day, the bees all absconded.
It’s not clear exactly why they absconded, but some factors might be:
- the bees had no drawn comb, honey stores, or brood to make them regret leaving
- the box may have been too hot
- the box may have been too small for the large swarm
- I handled them roughly during transport to my garden, which may have caused too much stress on the swarm.
Capturing a swarm (second attempt)
A few weeks later, another friendly local beekeeper caught a swarm, put it in a box, and let me take it home. This time, I was better prepared and immediately fed the bees a jar of sugar syrup. They quickly started drawing comb.
The comb is white, and almost transparent. You can see the yellow larva on both sides of the comb.
The bees also started filling cells with nectar and pollen.
After a few weeks, capped honey and capped brood was visible.