I caught a swarm today. It was small - perhaps about the size of an orange once it had clustered. It was stuck to the side of the building where my out-apiary is. I suppose that it came from one of my hives.
I boxed the swarm this afternoon and then moved it to the roof this evening.
The swarm is surely too small to survive the winter so I'm considering adding it to hive H, which is has too few bees.
EDIT 12/08/2017 - this colony of bees had absconded from Hive H.
Last night I went to visit my out apiary. As I was pottering around I received a phone call. It's hard to answer when your phone is inside a bee suit.
The call was from the same people who had given me the colony in Hive E. I'd given them some honey and asked for them to call when the feral colony swarmed.
I arrived to find a football sized cluster on their apple tree. They say it's the first swarm of the season - prime swarm.
Today I caught the swarm which has been hanging next to my out apiary. It happened unexpectedly.
I had been worrying about whether the swarm would settle on the tree and then become a nuisance. The urge to build comb can be very strong so that the bees sometimes build in a place where they can't possibly survive. I saw this late last year when I attempted to recover an established colony which had exposed comb on an apple tree. They had been extensively robbed which must have aggravated the colony.
There is a swarm near my out-apiary which may have come from my hives. I tried to retrieve it this early morning.
I think that these bees have ceased to behave like a swarm and will settle on the tree. They didn't move yesterday when the weather was good. It's due to be showery again today.
I went back to the swarm this morning at 0430hrs. It's about 8m from the ground, on a tree immediately outside the building where my apiary is sited. The thought struck me that I might get it down with some fishing line and a spoon.
Yesterday I was called to my out-apiary because of a swarm. It had settled in a tree right in front of the building where my elevated hives are kept. The swarm was about 10m up the tree; the hives are at a height of about 20m. There was no way to reach the swarm.
I collected a new swarm today from Helen, another low intervention bee keeper who has a Top Bar Hive near the John Radcliffe Hospital. She had kindly caught them in a skep with a sheet under it. Collecting it was simple: tie up the sheet and carry it all away.
The colony from which it comes has been untreated for 2 years. Before that it was intensively managed by a keeper in Wolvercote.
I have placed it in my out-apiary in a new Commercial brood box: Hive F. I'm using frames without foundation, with only the lolly stick guides.
I was called today to collect a late swarm from Barton. The woman who called me says that it is the 5th swarm this season to leave a nearby feral colony.
The feral colony is living in an air brick in a house about 30m from the apple tree where the swarm was clustered. The swarm emerged on Friday. Today is Tuesday. She'd expected them to disperse but there they were.
Collection was simple. Shake them from a branch at head height into a nucleus box. Leave for 5-10 minutes. Thank everyone and remove.
I was called a second time to Risinghurst by Judith who gave me my first swarm to collect. The same feral colony had cast a second swarm.
This new swarm was in the neighbour's hedge. Again it was at a low height and very easy to collect. This time I made no mistakes collecting it and then tipped it into the brood box of the hive.
From getting the call to being back at my desk took 2hrs 15mins. Not bad for a swarm catch.