Swarms


On Monday I observed a swarm collect on a nearby tree trunk. I think it was from hive 3. Liz came over to help collect the swarm. We basically scraped them gently down off the trunk and into a cardboard nuc box and in a few minutes it was apparent that we had the queen as the workers were marching into the entrance. Liz headed home to install these.

The thing to learn here is that this hive made the decision to raise a new queen and swarm before the first of April. March usually still feels a lot like winter around here, but the bees are looking ahead. We had a relatively warm Feb, so that might have contributed to the early build up of bees and the decision to leave. Next year I suppose I should put my honey supers on in March.

This past Monday, I was in my front yard when I saw a swarm on the move. I was hoping that they were going to find a tree to settle on, but it turned out that they were on the move to their new home. I followed them for several hundred yards heading slightly south of due west. I had never observed this before. They stayed in a cloud and were moving at a few miles per hour. I could have easily followed them, but they were heading across many properties and fences and I didn’t want to scare my neighbors or get shot. I took a video of my chase but you couldn’t really see the bees so I didn’t post it.

An hour or two later a second swarm emerged from hive 4. This was the hive set up last year by Kristien and Liz with a reared queen. I think they said that it was from the¬†Cleopatra line. I took three videos of this swarm as it emerged, gathered, and landed. It’s a pretty impressive sight.

When I took a close look at the bees, it didn’t appear that they were doing a lot of waggle dancing, so I assumed that they were many hours away from finding a new home. I ate some lunch, got some boxes ready to receive them and walked back out to the swarm to find that they had left. What a disappointment. They were only on that briar bush¬†for an hour or less. So it was not a good day for me. I lost two swarms. I just hope they found good homes.


One thought on “Swarms

  • Liz Thompson

    So what happened to the swarm I brought home? As I was installing them, there was a tragic accident. The lid, full of bees, fell from the top of the hive. I carried on with the installation but there was a stubborn group of bees that wasn’t interested in going into the box. I left them figuring they’d head in overnight. The next morning, Saturday, they were still there. As I gently moved them out of the way it was apparent they were attracted to and clustering about a dead queen with a red mark. Whether it was beekeeper error, fate, a gust of wind or bees making a decision we’ll never know. The bees remained in the hive and set to work collecting nectar and building comb. On Wednesday, I purchased a Carniolian queen, marked white, from Eversweet Apiaries. I installed her on Wednesday and released her on Saturday. As far as I can tell, the bees have accepted her. We’ll see in about 1-2 weeks.

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