I am becoming more and more convinced about another observation in swarm trapping. Last year (2011) I began the spring with only three hives. They were all relocated to Hive Site 01 (HS01). I had just began trapping and did almost all of the hiving of trapped swarms here at my home (HS02), so I never had a really large strong colony here for very long. Once a hive was determined to be queen-right I would relocate it to its permanent home. There always seemed to be at least two or three loaded traps around waiting for deployment. Consequently in 2011 four swarms of bees were trapped right here in traps that were just laying around.
I was expecting similar results this year but have been noticing something a little different. In 2011 HS02, HS04, and HS05 had no established colonies. All of these places were spots where bees were caught 2011. This year all three sites have two or three very strong colonies. The traps closest to those sites have not had a hit yet. In fact there was a day two weeks ago that a swarm flew right over HS02. My wife and daughter were out in the garden. The swarm flew all around them. Though there were five or six traps around here they flew over the house and headed North. My wife lost them when they reached a small woods.
HS01 had three established colonies in 2011. There was a trap at that site that never got occupied. The same goes for 2012 at HS01. I am certain there are feral bees in the area. I grew up at that site and almost every summer a swarm of bees would descend on one of the brick pillars on the front of the house. When I was a kid I knew of no beekeepers int he area.
For a while I thought perhaps since the colonies living around Hive Sites 02, 04, and 05 swarmed last year maybe they were taking a year off. I don’t believe this to be the case, because I am catching bees at other trap sites where I either had swarm calls or successful trappings in 2011.
I am leaning more towards the idea bees take the existence of strong established colonies into consideration when deciding on a location to call home. I have read a lot of forum threads and seen several YouTube videos where people are placing their traps within their apiary. They do this, fail to catch any swarms and decide that swarm trapping doesn’t work. I have no idea how far away is the most optimum distance. I did catch a swarm a little over 1/4 of a mile from HS02 a couple of weeks ago.
So if you have your trap(s) hanging in your apiary, get them somewhere a little farther away. I believe it will make them more productive… If you haven’t caught one yet don’t give up. There is still time to pick up a swarm and have it overwinter.
What do you think? Have you observed something similar or am I out in left field?