How To Catch a Swarm of Bees

Catching swarm of bees

Capturing a swarm of bees is relatively easy – as long as they are not hanging too high in a tree.

Work safety

Beekeeper catching swarm of bees

A swarm of bees is very peaceful and would never attack humans. Therefore, you do not actually need protective clothing to capture a swarm of bees. However, the swarm often sits in such a way that you are standing below the swarm cluster – possibly on a ladder. For safety reasons, you should wear protective clothing (long sleeves, veil, gloves). When shaking off the swarm, bees can fall next to it, get caught in the hair, tumble into the collar, and so on. In such situations, even the most peaceful bees will sting.


In addition to protective clothing, you will need a water sprayer, a bee broom, a swarm box (or a cardboard box, bucket or similar container) and a ladder if necessary.

swarm of bees

Capture the swarm

If the swarm of bees cannot be reached from the ground, use a sturdy ladder to help. Spray the swarm cluster with water from all sides using an atomizer. This will cause the bees to gather closer together and not fly up as quickly.

Hold the container under the swarm cluster and shake the branch vigorously so that the bees fall into the container. Spray after them again if necessary and sweep up any remaining bees still on the branch with the bee broom if necessary. It is not important (and possible) that all bees end up in the container. The main thing is that the larger part of the bees (and with them the queen) is in the box.

If you did not shake the bees into the swarm box in the first place, pour them in there now and close the box immediately.

There are several ways to deal with the remaining bees that could not be captured as well:

  • Normally, the bees return to the colony from which they had swarmed.
    Wait a while, shake off the newly collected small cluster of bees with another container, push the swarm box open so that all the bees fall to the bottom, quickly open the lid and pour in another portion of bees. Immediately close the swarm box again. This can be repeated once or twice if necessary.
  • If the swarm box has a flight hole, you can place the swarm box as close as possible to where the swarm was hanging and open the flight hole. The bees will immediately start to give scent signals (« sterzeln ») and thus show their sisters the way.
  • After some time, most of the bees have gathered there and retreated into the box. Now you can close the flight hole.
rehoming swarm of bees

It would be possible to immediately put the swarm in a new bee box. You can and must do this if you do not have a suitable swarm box. However, there is a risk that the swarm of bees will move out again and hang in the same place in the tree again.

It is better to first put the swarm overnight in a dark, cool and quiet place in a swarm box in the cellar and leave it there until the following evening (if necessary, you can leave the swarm for one more day, from the third day you have to feed liquid). Make sure that the swarm box is well ventilated.

When the bees are then put into the new bee box the following evening, you can be sure that they will not move out again.

If you do not need the swarm yourself, you can easily find a grateful buyer in your area via the swarm exchange. A swarm box or a suitably modified cardboard box is also ideal for transport .