Tuesday, May 4, 2010

SWARM!


A few minutes ago I was  opening up the  little greenhouse when I heard Reuben mooing in an unusually throaty, deep voice (maybe his voice is changing.) I went over to say hi and was astonished to see - and hear - the  air filled with honey bees. My honeybees! They were swarming!  And Reuben was very nervous being in the middle of them.
When I was working with them last week I was worried about swarming because there were so many bees crowded in there, but I couldn't add a super for them until they had finished their preventative medication treatments for foulbrood and mites.  This cloud of bees meant the new queen was taking her maiden flight. All the other bee were males, hoping to be the lucky mate.
I walked out into the swarm and took this photo looking the other direction.  Then I went into get my cell phone and call my beekeeper friend Jon. He was surprised; he has never heard of bees swarming so early in the year.  Jon said they would next probably find a staging place somewhere and gather in a cluster, before moving into a new home. If I had another set of bee boxes I could hope they would choose to move there, but I  had decided one hive was all I could handle this year so I didn't build another hive. When I returned to the hive after taking to Jon the bees were gone, probably clustered in the woods somewhere. If I  find them I will call the beekeeping club.  The bees would be very docile because they have no  hive to protect yet, and the entire cluster  could easily be gathered up, put in a box, and moved to a  new hive. Somebody would get a nice new colony.
As for my hive, it is significantly depleted of workers but it is early enough in the year that I hope it won't affect honey production too seriously. 

6 comments:

nancybond said...

Wow, that's a swarm alright! I'm our pollinators' best friend when it comes to protecting them and creating a friendly environment for them, but my older daughter is highly allergic to bee stings, and seeing them in a swarm like that makes me shudder. :) I do hope they find a suitable new home.

gz said...

It looks like it is an idea always to have a spare hive- even if you want to give the swarm to someone else!!

midwestgreen said...

I may be wrong - has happened - but I think the swarm is really about 1/2 of your colony and the old queen. I think the old queen takes 1/2 the workers when they swarm. When two of my hives swarmed last year both of the remaining colonies had to make new queens.

Either way - I hope you found the swarm and they were catchable.
w

Marie said...

omg -- it's like the movie -- the swarm of killer bees (sorry can't remember the title) ...

Becky said...

Wow, I think I would have been pretty nervous next to that swarm. Hopefully you'll still have plenty of bees left to make lots of great honey this year.

Susan said...

You are right, W; I was mixing up the swarm phenomenon with the mating flight of the new queen. I didn't find the swarm, but I didn't look for it too hard. When your hives swarmed last year did the old hives recover fairly quickly?