BEE HAPPY: What to do with a swarm?

This week I want to share what has happened since my last article. For three weeks in a row we have dealt with bee swarms. You may ask, what exactly is a swarm of bees?

 

A few facts first and then on to the story; Swarming is a natural process in the life of a honey bee colony and can occur when there may be overcrowding. A queen will send out her scout bees to find another home upon their return the queen will leave and take half or more of the hive with her. They may not go very far and may cluster on the limb of a tree, the underside of a bench, or even in a bramble bush. Thousands of bees are flying around, and you can actually hear them, they are truly a sight to behold but unless you realize exactly what they are doing it can be pretty frightening. Once they start to cluster they can stay from a few hours to a few days, depending on the weather and if the scout bees have been able to locate a new home it’s then time to move on. Before the bees actually leave the hive, they gorge on honey and then because they are not protecting their home or brood they are not in the defensive mode and are not aggressive.

 

On to the story. About four weeks ago I received a call from a friend Colby L. who is also a new beekeeper, she wasn’t sure what to do with a swarm that had landed very close to her hives and were now in a bramble bush. I asked my husband Keith if he’d like to go and off we went (in the past we have always gotten swarms by brushing them in a bucket and hoping we got the queen otherwise they will go back to where the cluster and the queen is). We cut the bramble bush, got a white sheet, laid it down and put a new hive in close proximity to the bees. As they were scooped towards the opening of the hive box we realized we had gotten the queen and in an orderly fashion they started marching, ok not really marching, but walking into their new home. It was so awesome watching them walking in, I was mesmerized as was everyone that was watching!

 

The next week another swarm, hey I figured if it worked once it should work again, right? Well I called my friend Mark P. and asked if he could help me since my assistant, ok my husband, had to go to work. Mark P. came over and I said, “Watch and learn my friend”, and guess what? It worked again, he was just excited as I was, it took those bees all of 15 minutes to move into their new home. Remember, as long as you get the queen the rest will follow.

 

So … the next week while I was at work my husband called and said, guess what? Yup, you guessed it, another swarm. This time I was not able to go out and help but Keith did an excellent job using the same method, got the queen (even though he said she kept coming in and out of her new home and finally decided she was cool living in her new condo). All three hives are doing well, the exciting part was watching them move in and be very happy and productive bees!

Beekeeping has its ups and downs, and this was definitely some really great ups! Next time if I can contain my excitement I will try to get a video. A small side note, today is Monday the 14th of May and we just had one heck of a storm pass through, trees are down in our neighborhood, but our beehives are still standing!!! Until next time keep planting those wonderful flowers that our pollinators love and remember to bee kind!

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