I catch a lot of swarms, but a lot get away too. Last weekend, I was checking my swarm traps when I saw a small fragmented swarm high in a maple tree. It was in three pieces, but all three together were not much in the way of bees. Still, I wanted the queen, so I considered how to get her down.
Later in the day, my husband and I climbed the hill armed with tree pruners, ropes, boxes, and good intentions, but after assessing for a while, we gave up. The swarm was at the very end of a branch about twenty feet in the air. The maple grew from a steep hillside and the branch was suspended over a nearly vertical slope. Under that was a deep snag of branches and limbs left over from the January ice storm. Even if I could stand on the slope, I couldn’t get under the limb because of the snag. It was a mess.
I snapped a few photos and lugged my stuff back to the shed. In the morning, I ran out for a quick look before I left for the day. The three pieces had coalesced into one knot of bees during the night, but they were in exactly the same place and still unreachable. By the time I got home that afternoon, the swarm was gone. Of course, it had ignored my traps and I have no clue where it went.