Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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.