Survival Podcast Interview

Last week I was interviewed by Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast. When the interview was over my head was spinning and I am not confident I communicated everything as clearly as I should have. It probably didn’t sound like it, but I did prepare prior to the interview. I had an outline ready but once we began talking all of that stuff went out the window. I will admit to being nervous and there were times I rambled and as a result didn’t get to some important aspects of Swarm Trapping.

Hopefully this post can clarify some things for anyone interested in making their beekeeping life more sustainable.  Resupply your vacated hive equipment for free by swarm trapping.

Background information on feral bees and genetics:

Deborah Delaney Speaking at the 2013 Pacific Northwest Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference

BOOK:  Swarm Traps and Bait Hives: The easy way to get bees for free. By McCartney Taylor – I didn’t write this book, and I don’t get anything for recommending it. I do own it, and recommend it to anyone thinking of swarm trapping.

Trap – Instructions

Selecting Trapping Locations –

Looking for Spots 2/22/12
Addition to Spots Post 2/26/12
New observation on swarming behavior 05/17/12
Another observation on swarming behavior 5/23/12 – ON-Line directory of feral hives.

Loading Swarm Traps 

Hanging Traps

When to Deploy traps – This is going to depend on where you live. Here in Eastern Indiana I deploy traps in early April and try to get them taken down after August 1st. I use forum thread Please Post your Swarm Dates to help with this. Every Spring swarming begins in the Southern US and works its way North. People report their swarm dates and you can get an idea when swarming will begin in your area.

Catching and Hiving Trapped Bees

The Difference between a Hit and Catch 5/9/12
What to do when your trap gets a HIT (a potential catch) 5/14/12
Hiving a Trapped Swarm 5/16/12
Trap #25 becomes 1211 6/25/12

If you aren’t interested in trapping bees – Try to find a local beekeeper who can sell you some.

If you have a little time this winter consider building some traps. You can normally get old deep Langstroth boxes from beekeepers for cheap ($2-$5) or free. Having feral bees living in your area is a valuable asset.

I am open to any and all questions as well.
So leave them in the comments or e-mail me.

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18 Responses to Survival Podcast Interview

  1. Bill says:

    Nice interview Jason. I’m definitely ramping up the number of swarm traps I set next season. Got some building to do this winter.

    BTW, I was at that 2013 PNW Treatment-free Beekeeping conference. I got to meet Tom Seeley, author of Honeybee Democracy. He gave a great talk on swarm behavior and how they choose a new home ( I got some video out at the swarm board showing some of the piping, dancing, and running he talks about (

    • Jason says:

      Hey… you can build 10 of them in about as much time as it takes to build 5… 🙂 Catch as many as possible next year.

      Thanks for the links Bill. I have a ton-o-stuff I have in my queue. I need to address that.

      I would love to make it to one of those conferences some time. Anita has been able to meet Michael Bush and have lunch with him. It’s probably good I haven’t gone. If I got to talking to someone like Mr. Bush I would have so many questions I would probably ruin his conference.. 🙂

  2. LJH says:

    I thought it was a great interview. You can only cover so much in an hour and you cleared up a lot of the questions I had about catching a wild hive. I’m absolutely going to try this come spring!

  3. Mar says:

    I listened to your interview and while I’d heard other interviews with beekeepers before, this was exactly the one I’d been looking for! I’d known there had to be a way to capture bees rather than buy them, but I’ve heard very little about anyone doing it . . . until now! I’d even heard old stories about people tracking bees back to their original hives to capture them. I’m not ready for beekeeping yet, but when I am, yours are the methods I hope to put to use. Thanks for doing the interview and sharing all that information!

    • Jason says:

      Check out this book Bee Hunting That is a cool old book from 1908. I don’t cut bees out of trees if I can avoid it. It is a renewable resource if I leave them there catching swarms off of them year after year. That book is good at helping you find bee trees.

      Hey good luck.

  4. Cheryl says:

    I loved your TSP interview. I was excited to hear you were in Indiana, until I found out you are as far away from me as you can be and still be in the same state! Lol

    • Jason says:

      Heh… Even though I may be almost the entire state away, there is a good chance that feral bees are in your part of the state also. I have a friend near Evansville that sent me a picture of a swarm on a tree in his back yard this summer. If it was worth more than $100 I would probably drive there and put up some traps, but I can’t make that work financially.

      I am currently trying to figure out a way to put people in contact with reports of swarming behavior, but don’t know if anything will come of it. That is going to be a 2014-2015 goal….

      Thanks for the comment….

      • Cheryl, I found out about Jason on the survival podcast and plan to try some of the stuff he is talking about this coming year. I’m on the west side of Indiana halfway between Terre Haute and Vincennes, near Dugger, so pretty much everything he is talking about should be valid here too.

        And Jason, I loved the interview. You inspired me to dig deeper and that is enough.

        • Jason says:

          Sorry it has taken so long to get back with you. Alot has been going on. I am sure there are feral hives near you. A college friend messaged me last year on facebook about a swarm in Elberfeld. If you know some people around that town you can catch some swarms.
          Find 5 old deep boxes and rig them up like this.

          Good luck.

          • Thanks for the link. We had a swarm in a tree in front of our house a year and a half ago although it seems we lost a hive last winter/spring since there weren’t any bees for a couple of months. Also, my cousin who lives about a mile away had a hive in a tree she cut down in her yard. There is a lot of old reclaimed strip mining areas around that are now being run by the DNR.

  5. Benjo says:

    Jason, I just found your blog. I’m excited to trap swarms this spring. I heard you say on the TSP interview that you could get into hive management but that you were focusing on swarm trapping. I’ve looked through your blog but can’t find a complete explaination of your management techniques. Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks!

    • Jason says:

      Jason, I just found your blog.  I’m excited to trap swarms this spring.  I heard you say on the TSP interview that you could get into hive management but that you were focusing on swarm trapping.  I’ve looked through your blog but can’t find a complete explaination of your management techniques.  Could you point me in the right direction?  Thanks!

      My management style is very minimalist and frankly I haven’t blogged much about it because I am still figuring out for myself how to proceed before I yap about it. There is a lot of wonky information on the net about beekeeping, and I don’t want to add to it. Some have problems with my method of management and claim that I am not managing things at all, but there is method to my management style. I will be speaking more about what I am doing in the Spring of 2014. Until then here are some insights into how I am currently managing my colonies.

      1. No matter what I will not feed or treat my colonies. Some think that this is harsh but perpetuating poorly suited genetic lines is a waste of time for beekeepers and is detrimental to bees as a species. So I allow good genetics to survive and don’t waste time on doomed lines. Over time my colonies become stronger and stronger. Others are doing this. Search: Tim Ives.
      2. I assess the status of my hives through outside observation similarly to the ways described in Warre’s book. I believe that repeated hive manipulations introduce pathogens to the hive and increase stress on the colony. I try to only open hives in the Spring to add supers, 1-2 times in the summer to assess the need for more supers, and in the fall to remove full supers. If I have to open them more than 5 times a year its too much.
      3. I utilize 3 deep for the brood area. This allows the bees to have a large area for laying eggs and building comb. In the heat of the summer during peak population times my hives do not have as much of an issue with excess heat and overcrowding. They are inside the hive doing work. Since shifting to 3 deeps from 2, bearding has been less of a problem. This setup allows for colonies to build something similar to what I find in bee trees in my area. (a cylinder of a colony ~ 2.5-3 feet tall).
      4. I try to stay OUT of the brood area after I install a swarm of captured bees into a hive. My bees are there to be bees NOT to be messed with. I add and remove honey supers, but the deep hive bodies where the brood is laid is off limits to me. After I install bees into hives they are only dismantled for 1 of 2 reasons.
      a. Either they have expired and I am just taking things apart for cleanup and re-use.
      b. OR they were a poorly performing colony coming out of winter. They survived, but are not as strong as my honey-production colonies. These colonies are SPLIT so that they don’t produce drones. The resulting virgin queens can then mate with drones from my stronger colonies as well as feral drones in my area.
      5. No aggressive/destructive swarm prevention manners are used. If they want to swarm badly enough they are allowed to do so. I get all of my genetics for free from feral sources, it is the least I can do to give some colonies back to the woods each year.
      6. I attempt to prevent swarming in a less aggressive manner by providing room to my strong “Production” colonies very early in the year. Those colonies are supered with 4-6 supers in late March or early April. This allows them to get started producing honey early and don’t suffer from a honey packed brood area. I feel it keeps them from swarming. This also allows for these colonies to send out drones that can mate with the virgin queens I make from less productive stock. By this method I am improving the stock over time as has been demonstrated by people like Tim Ives.

      There is a little for you to chew on for a while. I would have blogged more in 2013, but this has been a crazy year for our family. We bought a farm, had a son, tore down 2 houses, and are currently having one built. Most of the work up to this point has been myself, my Dad, and one really good friend. We are hoping to be moved by May, and once I am settled, I hope to regain a set blogging schedule, like I had initially WAAY back in 2012. Until then I will try to answer questions, so drop me a line if you need anything.

      We as beekeepers each of us need to learn to observe bee behavior and then experiment. Let your management be based on that. As you experiment duplicate successful modifications and stop practices resulting in poor outcomes.

      I need to get the garage ready for deer to hang in there. Look for stuff by Michael Bush and Tim Ives Good luck.

      • Benjo says:

        Thanks Jason for an awesome reply/mini-post. 🙂 I only have one year of beekeeping under my belt, and it was disheartening: two packages of Italian bees that both died this summer. I fed very little, because I thought there was enough blooms for them. In retrospect, I think they needed more help and were pharma-dependent, which is a no-no for me. This year I’m driving to someone’s beeyard in the state to get packages of what are essentially well-kept mutts. They said they started with feral bees(great) and added some Italian, Russian, and Carni to get various qualities. These people raise them small-cell with so called organic essential oil treatments. Hopefully the genetics will be stronger and more resilient.

        I’m inclined to follow your philosophy when it comes to trapped swarms ie not feeding since they should be ready to go with beelies full of honey. But with a package of bees in the spring, I’m really tempted to give them a boost. My thoughts would be that it’s unnatural to put a queen and random bees in a box that aren’t trying to swarm already, so perhaps it takes an unnatural act of feeding them to finish the job. Hopefully they can recover…

        Congrats on all the exciting changes in your life. Thanks for the help.


  6. Willie says:

    I’ve been keeping bees for about 4 years now, had some growing pains, lost a few hives and am now seeing the light…I do not medicate, I have fed my packages and splits enough to get going in the past. I have grown tired of making sugar syrup and am only going to feed or give honey next year. My plan for the 5 packages I’ve already ordered is to give them a frame of honey or two to start with some drawn comb in order to get them going, instead of feeding for the sake of having them draw out a completely new hive for themselves…hopefully they will get going a little quicker.
    While looking into swarm trapping, I ran across your webpage and I like what you and others are saying about feral bees and natural/practical beekeeping. Some goes against the establishment, but it makes sense that if by way of natural selection, the strong will survive. We have to be strong enough to let the weak ones die. I am down to 2 hives from 6, (the reason I bought more) I want to increase to about 20 hives and starting next year, will split the strong ones and try and figure out this swarm trapping stuff so that I will have genetic diversity that works for my area..
    Thanks for sharing and hope you have a Merry Christmas,

    • Jason says:

      Hey Willie I am sorry it took me so long to catch that you left a comment. I am sorry that you have been losing some hives. This year is a going to be a rough one for me I think. I have not had low temps like these ever since beginning beekeeping.

      I have had too many irons in the fire to keep up with the website recently. I am hoping that once our house is done and we have moved content and feedback will be more consistent. I know things will still be busy, but I will find time to get back into

      Check out those swarm trap plans and let me know if you have any questions as we get closer to Spring. Best of luck to you and thanks for the comment.


  7. Pingback: Swarm Trapping on the Survival Podcast | Beekeeping365

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