"I don't personally know any one who has caught a swarm in a bait hive here in my area, ..." I wrote last time. Well, consider that statement as inoperative now. My first bait hive just produced the results exactly as I had planned it!
My friend with the big bee tree called yesterday. Her bees had finally swarmed out of the tree cavity! They had swarmed up to the place we thought they would go: under the eaves of her detached out building. This is where the bees went the last two times that colony swarmed. Some days ago we had placed the bait hive just in front of the now-closed-off opening into the dead space under the roof. The hive was now occupied!
I collected the swarm in the evening, when all the scouts and foragers had returned. It was a simple matter to stuff some paper into the opening in the bait hive, tape it over and then just remove the hive from the hook where it was hanging under the eaves. I carried the whole shebang over to my friend Julie's apiary and let her have them as kind of restoration of my karmic balance for that last swarm of bees she had delivered to me even though she had lost a queen.
Any worries I had had about how to do the transfer from the bait hive to a permanent hive were erased. It was a simple matter to unscrew the four deck screws holding hive closed, without having the whole thing fall open when the screws came out. Opening it up disturbed a few of the bees, but the cluster in the bottom half remained in place until Julie shook them into a western super she had already set up and made ready for the transfer. The swarm was mainly in the upper half so it was a simple matter to shake the rest of the bees into a space where half the frames had been removed from the super. She set a white sheet on the ground next to the super leading up to the entrance. The loose bees and the flying stragglers just marched in. In a few minutes all the bees were at home in the super.
Julie put the remaining frames back in place and covered the super. In a day or two when they are acclimatised she'll do the newspaper trick and add them to an underpopulated hive in her apiary. When we looked into the now-empty bait hive, there were three saucer-sized combs already attached to the underside of the hive roof. They had built that much in less than 24 hours, and filled the combs with nectar and a fair amount of blackberry pollen!
I'm glad this whole plan came together, and I have high hopes now for the other two hives I have set out. I'll keep you all informed.
[Added July, 2010: Some inquired, "What will happen to the queen if she combines the swarm with a colony????" It's okay, through the auspices of the Beek Association the queen got a new home.]