Swarming of honeybees is process which is natural to honeybees which occurs on yearly basis. Accordingly, I decided to explain more about catching unknown swarms. Each colony of honeybees, irrelevantly if it is domesticated or wild colony, will swarm. This happens as a result of their increased numbers within colony. Catching runaway swarms which would suspend on low branches of trees or other such locations, used to be basic part of beekeeping up to day today. Now, it is different story. Due to modern supers we are able to divide colony into two colonies before any swarm even leaves hive.
Things to consider when catching unknown swarms
Catching unknown swarms may be a blessing for every beekeeper, to expand his own apiary with newest colony, it might be dangerous too. To better understand pros and cons of catching unknown runaway swarm, we must go to reasons behind swarming of honeybees.
Reasons for swarming might be fully natural, such are: lack of food or lack of living and working space. On the other hand, swarming might occur due to the external reasons as well. When environment in which honeybees live becomes inhospitable, either due to noise or bad odor near hive. These things might lead to swarming.
Catching ran away swarms, which swarmed out of these reasons is normal and desirable act. Apart from mentioned swarming triggers, there are is another reason, which is health condition of colonies. If varroa destructor becomes highly dominant inside a colony, they will swarm to try to escape varroa. Catching an unknown swarm suffering from minor, treatable health issues which are easily treatable is certainly a good thing.
On the other hand, catching a swarm which carries more serious diseases is dangerous. Illnesses such is plague (American/European) might lead to extinction of all colonies at your apiary. Reason for it is in fact that plagues are highly infective diseases which easily get carried from one colony to another via tools with which beekeeper use. To avoid such things, educate yourself on different diseases of honeybees, reasons why they appear and season of their appearances as well as swarming season for honeybees in your area.
Catching an unknown swarm at end of September/beginning of October is highly dangerous because these aren’t months for natural swarming in Europe. Run away swarms are most likely running from a diseases which exiled them from their hives. Since, I have noticed that some beekeepers are complaining about this, I decided to share this simple wisdom for catching unknown swarms.