Swarm Removal: Academy North Neighborhood
On Saturday evening of Memorial Day Weekend 2020, a friendly woman in the Academy North Neighborhood in Albuquerque, NM contacted me about some honey bees she found in her tree. When I reached out to her, she described a swarm of bees that had attached to the branch of a piñon tree in her front yard. I knew that I needed to investigate first thing the next morning because swarms don't typically stay in one place for very long. As soon as they find a suitable place to establish a hive, they move in, start raising brood, and begin to make honey.
When I arrived at her house the next morning, I found a swarm on a tree branch approximately 10 feet off the ground. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my ladder at home. However, the homeowner was very kind and let me use her ladder to reach the bees.
Upon climbing up the ladder and inspecting the bees, I found them to be very docile. This was expected as swarms are not in a place where they're defending an established hive. The piñon tree was pretty dense and the branch they were using was fairly thick. So, the usual methods of shaking the branch to get the bees into a box or cutting a branch and lowering into a box were not viable options in this case.
I assessed that the best option for removal was to use my bee vacuum to vacuum them into a 5 gallon bucket and dump them into the beehive. After about 4 or 5 trips up the ladder I was able to get almost all the bees off the branch and into a transportable beehive. As I was shaking the bees out of the bucket, I was reminded that bees do not like to be shaken. (Note to self: remember to put on beekeeping jacket prior to shaking bees into beehive.) I was not wearing my beekeeping jacket at the time and I ended up getting stung a couple of times.
Once the bees were in the beehive, I moved the hive underneath the tree and went to the store to buy an antihistamine for my bee stings. I also took the opportunity to do a hive inspection on my in-town beehive. I wanted to give the bees an chance to settle down and get used to their new home.
I came back a couple hours later and didn't find any bees on the tree branch. There were a few bees on top of the beehive that I vacuumed before I loaded the hive into the back of my SUV. When I arrived home, I put the beehive alongside my other hives and put a regular lid on top. So far, they seem to be adjusting to their new home in their new location.