Is it a good idea to feed my neighbors’ bees in hope they will swarm here?

I can think of more productive things to do with your time. That’s like asking if you should put out meat for your neighbors’ dog or Big Macs for your neighbors’ kids. It might work, but it’s a lousy strategy for getting along in the world.

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  • I disagree. If a hive is going to swarm, it is going to swarm wether the neighbors put out food for them or not. At least if the neighbors are offering food, & the bees do stop there, then the neighbor has the opportunity to offer them back to the original owner, that is, if they can find a bar code on them proving where they came from. Besides, maybe the neighbor will be happy with the free food & they food might accidently draw in a wild swarm & then both people are happy.

  • Studies have been done showing different races of bees prefer to swarm a distance that will be out of competition with the issuing colony; ie. Italians go about 3-4 km and Carnolians prefer 7 km. That is why if you put a swarm box in your own yard, you won’t catch your bees, but hopefully someone else’s.

    • Bruce,

      I am interested in knowing what studies. Thomas Seeley in his in-depth book about swarming “Honeybee Democracy” doesn’t press distance from the mother hive as a large factor in nest selection. In my own experience, I have watched swarms leave a hive in my own apiary, hang about in an alder for a few hours or a few days, and then move into a bait hive that I’ve set up nearby. It is especially easy to track them when the queens are numbered. Of course, they don’t all nest nearby, but some do. I have had both Italians and Carniolans select nest sites within a couple hundred feet of the apiary, although my experience is mostly with Carniolans.

  • Please forgive and forget my earlier post. For some reason I misquoted the studies I referred to (J L Gould, 1982 and Seeley and Morse, 1977) which stated Italians preferred to swarm a mean distance of 155 m distance and Carnolians 690 m. Sorry for the confusion.