Instant replay

It was exactly nine days ago that my hive number four threw a gigantic swarm that landed in a fir tree. Today was exactly the same. After several days of cold and rainy weather, today dawned bright and warm. This time I was weeding my pollinator garden when I heard the unmistakeable sound of a swarm.

When I got close enough to see it, it was like watching reruns. Bees were still rushing from the entrance when I got there, circling above the hive, and gathering in the same fir tree, on the same branch, high on the embankment.

After watching in awe for a few minutes, I went to the house for my trusty bottle of Swarm Commander. If you recall, after the first swarm emerged, I put swarm lures in the four flower-pot shaped swarm traps that are in trees, and sprayed four bait hives that were sitting on the ground with Swarm Commander. It took four nights, but the bees finally chose one of the bait hives.

So today I decided to re-spray the three remaining bait hives. I sprayed one, but when I got the second I couldn’t believe my eyes: it was already populated! When I wasn’t paying attention, another swarm had decided that was their new home. So now the Swarm Commander is 2 for 2. Sorry if I sound like an advertisement, but I’m really impressed with the stuff.

So once again I’m in a holding pattern, hoping this new swarm might like one of my offerings. Right now, I see no scouts anywhere, so either they aren’t ready to scout or they have a more distant abode in mind. We shall see. In the meantime, this is too much fun.



The swarm chose the same branch as the previous swarm, high in a Douglas-fir tree.


This little bait hive suddenly is home to a colony. Inside, the box is full.

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    • Bill,

      Yes. I started with eight traps, four with Mann Lake swarm lure and four with Swarm Commander. So far, I’ve caught two in the Swarm Commander traps, none in the others.

  • Thanks Rusty
    I now have 3 bait hives with frames with honey and SWARM COMMANDER!

  • Rusty, are you letting them swarm to mix things up in your life a little? The advertisement worked, I ordered a spray can too. 🙂 I lost a swarm last weekend, but it came back to an empty box 10 feet from the original hive. I am so glad it came, it must have been a 10 lb swarm from a checker boarded hive that I did not keep up with supering. They just went for a deep body with three old frames.

    • Aram,

      I keep them a little swarmy when I’m trying to make comb honey, but I lose them sometimes, which is why all the bait hives. I did make a couple proactive splits, but everything is happening early this year, as you know. I live in a rural area, so a swarm usually doesn’t cause a problem.

  • By the way, any honey harvest yet? I got several gallons of big leaf maple last weekend too. Amazing spring flow in Kent area.

  • I dunno, Rusty – if that Fir Tree has cones, maybe you should be marketing the SEEDS.

  • Swarming hives – ‘ditto’ – nine days almost down to the hour – crazy! Feel like I should have bought stock in beehive boxes.

    Here it’s kinda exciting to see such production going on. Last time this year I was just trying to keep my hive alive because of the poison spray they used to spray the Interstate and Hwy 99. Feels wonderful to have full frames and content bees.

  • I get my bottle later today, I’m so excited to try it. I had half jokingly asked Mr. Derrick if he was going to have a sale for mothers day but I guess he’s busy doing removals because he never replied. Tomorrow after strawberry picking with my daughter I’m baiting some traps then coming home to build some bottom boards. I can’t wait to expand my apiary!

  • Hallo Rusty,
    I tried to order swarm commander and was having difficulty with having it sent to Europe. Mr. Derrick was obliging and was willing to send me an invoice so that I could get it. However the postage is going to be $20:00 for one bottle which is $29:00. Is this normal do you think for postal rates USA to The Netherlands with a tiny package? This is probably a bit off topic, but I was wondering why not just pop the plastic vials into a jiffy bag and mail it. Surely that can’t cost so much…..Or am I going daft?

    • Lindy,

      I think it has to do with customs inspections. A package I mailed in the States cost $6. To mail the same package to Canada was $21, even though Canada is closer than Florida by a long shot.

      • I have ordered something similar also Nasanov lures from Thornes in England. That costs for almost the same amount of fluid €15:75 which is about $17:80 and is inclusive of postage…… Now to hope that it works just as good as your swarm commander. Thanks for your answer.

  • The Swarm Commander that I ordered arrived today. As near as I can tell, it’s just expensive lemongrass. Just a FYI.

    • Kim,

      Of course, we humans have a poor sense of smell. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Nasonov pheromone has seven components, and synthetic pheromone works best when all seven are present. The main one—the one we can smell—is citral, which is also found in lemongrass oil. But the other six components are not found in lemongrass oil and honey bees do not respond as well or as consistently when the lesser known odors are missing. Just a FYI.

  • I am kinda impressed with Swarm Commander. Put out a swarm box and 3 days later had a massive swarm.
    Hived the new swarm, reset the swarm box and set it back out in the same location. Here it is 3 days later and the box looks to be full again!!

    I feel so blessed. The swarms I’m pulling in are very gentle.

    I have to say when I first sprayed SC I was concerned I had bought a expensive bottle of lemon grass oil. But I can smell something else in there – kinda a sharp sour note, very subtle.

    Whatever it is I’m happy. Lov things that work great!!

  • I’ve thought about having a bait hive in my bee yard, but have wondered if the swarm commander only worked on bees that had swarmed of if there was a risk of convincing a nearby swarm to come to it. April 2016 will mark my first year in beekeeping, so sorry in advance if my question is naive. 🙂

    • Eddie,

      The pheromones in Swarm Commander will attract a swarm that is searching for a new home. However, it will not entice a colony into swarming. Swarming is a complex process that cannot be initiated by the presence of the lure.

  • Hello Rusty,

    Your site is my go to place when I have a question or concern about my bees. I appreciate your practical perspective, common sense approach and the wisdom of your experience.

    This is the first year I am going to put out swarm traps. I am not able to check on my yard more than every other weekend. The bees are on an organic farm about 1.5 hour drive from our present home.

    My question is about moving the caught swarm into the yard. Of course, assuming we are successful in catching one!

    If the colony has started to set into the swarm trap will it be a problem to move the hive? I am going to set the traps up about 15 +/- feet from the present yard. I have read some of your other posts on moving a hive a short distance and am wondering if that is the same process when moving a caught swarm.

    Thank you

    • Sharon,

      If they start to build in the swarm traps you will have to cut the combs out and tie them into the frames of your hive. If they’ve been there more than a short time (an hour or so), the foragers will return to the original location. If you can’t get back for two weeks, I would just move them the best I could and sacrifice those foragers that don’t re-orient.

  • I am in northern Alberta and the swarm commander works for me. I have three traps and they worked good. I have three swarms now. I only have seven hives and I got three frames to set with honey. The honey I got was three litres. Not bad. Last year we had a bear who destroyed my hives. but I got three swarms last year and they were alive this year.