How to capture an ATTACKING Native Bee swarm

This is how we capture take over swarms, it is in no way guaranteed you will capture a swarm, this is just how we do it, and we have a great amount of success following these steps


How to tell you have a take-over swarm:

Take-Over swarms are easy to spot if you know what your looking for.

If you have a takeover swarm your hive front face might be black with bees, you may see bees diving at the entry to get into your hive, The number one thing to look for is masses of bees locked together on the ground, chances are it’s a takeover swarm if you see this. SEE BELOW PICTURES

native bee swarm capture native bee swarm capture native bees fighting swarm

DO NOT TRY TO CAPTURE A MATING SWARM (mating swarms are different in there is much less “fighting” and the bees (males) will generally fly in a figure eight pattern outside the hive waiting to mate, you may even see some roosting out overnight on nearby tree branches,fence etc)…AGAIN DO NOT TRY TO CAPTURE A MATING SWARM!

Take-over swarms are perfectly natural, they happen in nature as the do in the urban environment. Depending on how you look at takeover swarms, they can be a fantastic thing and here's why

  1. It can actually make your hive incredibly strong in a short amount of time. (the bees will only fight until the ONE team give in or your hive defends the attackers off , then the attacking team will either move into the hive IN HUGE NUMBERS, or move on (we have however observed swarms kill other hives, this is not common in our experience, however please BEE CAREFUL in choosing to allow the attackers to just do their thing and takeover a healthy hive) if you choose to not allow the attacking bees to take over your hive, simply lock up your hive with a mesh plug or screen for a couple days..the attackers will move on.
  2. You can attempt to capture the swarm, and bag yourself a free populated hive if you are lucky and use a properly prepared bait hive.
  3. if they are attacking an eduction, you can just unhook from the mother hive, and allow the attackers to take up residence in the hive (lock up your mother hive if this happens)


Method of Capturing a Takeover Swarm


  1. Prepare your bait hive with Propolis, Melt it on the inside of your empty hive, give it a swirl to coat the inside, this gives the attackers something to build with straight away. SEE BELOW IMAGE

native bee box preperation

  2. If your hive that is being attacked has a exit tube, scent ring etc, remove it and attach/fit it to your empty bait hive (the attackers will have scented this so they know where to attack)
  3. Close of your full hive (the one being attacked) with either a mesh plug (we sell these ) or a bit of fine mesh screen, if you are going to use fly screen, double it over, to make the holes smaller.
  4. Quickly remove your full hive, and replace in the exact same position with the bait hive.
  5. Place the full hive on top of the empty bait hive, and turn it 90 degrees clockwise or counter clockwise DO NOT TURN IT SO IT IS FACING BACKWARDS…. The entry Should be pointing 90 degrees away from the way it was.
  6. Allow the attacking bees to attack the new bait hive (don’t stand in front of the new hive, just walk away and watch from a distance.)
  7. Leave the bait hive in position for at least 24hrs DO NOT REMOVE YOUR FULL HIVE IN THIS TIME…Swarms come in waves, you should get one wave in the morning, and then another in the afternoon. If you setup the bait box at say 10am you should leave it in its position UNTIL nightfall the next day..
  8. After dark the next day (after setting up the bait box) you can remove your full hive away for a period NO LESS THAN 3 weeks OVER 1KM away. You need to do this because you cant put this hive back in that position in your yard on return, you need to allow the attackers to settle into the new hive
  1. Allow the attacking swarm to do their bee thing, you don’t really need to open the hive to look inside very often, if you can see bees coming and going, just let them bee, have a look after a couple days so you don’t spook them. They need to be allowed to setup defenses, build stores, and hopefully a mated queen will arrive very very soon. you may see a mating swarm outside your hive as a new queen arrives. a successful take over can last weeks, just let them do what they do, do not move the hive or inspect too often
  2. If you miss the capture don’t despair, swarms aren’t a given thing, they are hit and miss, sometimes you win some, sometimes you loose some…. Next time!
  3. After 3 weeks you can bring your full hive home, and place in a new position in your garden.





Always have a prepared hive in your stash, swarms can come at anytime.

You can prepare/scent a box by hooking up as an eduction, and simply disconnecting once some structure is built, keep the hive OPEN though after disconnecting, so the bees can return to their original hive


Learn to distinguish between different swarms, watch and observe

NEVER EVER TRY TO CATCH A MATING SWARM …. you will just be robbing your hive of a mated queen, and run the risk of killing the hive off…


IF THEY ARE LOCKED IN BATTLE in large numbers, that’s your que to place your bait hive, don’t do it to early, or too late… too early they will just move on…too late they will have lost the battle and move on, or you will have lost a chunk of your hives population….

Pay attention to your hives…. small brown smears on the front of your hive and a few hovering bees should be your first indicators that something is/ can be happening soon. Pay close attention from this point.