Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Swarm Catchers
I am such a lucky girl. The other evening Beeman got a call that his friends Tim and Mary found a swarm on their land that was in an easy location for capturing. They have an amazing farm on the Marys River not far from my house. In addition to being great models of self-sufficient living, they are beekeepers with eleven hives (I'm jealous)!
I love how swarms always seem to find their way to the properties of people who deserve them the most.
Mary and Tim are getting ready to shake and brush the swarm into an empty hive box. When bees are clustered in a swarm they are extremely gentle. Their only concern is staying together and protecting the queen. Everything is calm and lovely...
...and now it is not. Beeman, Mary, and Tim stirring up the bees and creating a wonderful scene of chaos.
The hive box was left up on the ladder for awhile to encourage more bees to go inside.
Most of the bees were contained within the hive box, but a large number were bearding on the front near the entrance.
A group of bees immediately assumed guard duty, lifting their abdomens in the air and fanning their wings to signal that a suitable home had been found. Usually this is a good sign that the queen is inside with them.
There were some stragglers left on the arbor. They will most likely join their sisters in the new hive soon. I don't know that I would like to be forceably told where to go either. Some bees are stubborn, just like me.
Not even 30 minutes later, the bees had all moved inside the hive. The next steps for Tim and Mary are to add additional frames to the hive and inspect the bees in a few days to verify that a queen is indeed inside. And now they have twelve active hives (super jealous). Twelve!!!
In addition to beekeeping, Mary also breeds carnivorous plants. Two very exciting hobbies, don't you think? Thank you for an incredible evening!
In other news, yesterday I found a swarm of my own. Melanie and I were walking with the boys near the Oak Creek covered bridge when a cloud of thousands of bees surrounded us, moving very slowly through the forest. We watched them settle and cluster on an old tree, practically hidden from view.
I completely understand the allure of catching a swarm in order to expand your hives, but there is something magical about a swarm that is able to establish itself in the wild. Don't worry bees, your secret is safe with me.