It’s swarm season here at Pure & Simple, and anywhere you find bees, really. In a nutshell, a queen will leave with about half of the hive’s population as a means of increasing the overall bee population. Scout bees go out from the hive to find a suitable location and the queen leaves with her entourage. If the queen likes the location they’ll stay, if not they’ll continue looking for a location that will please her. This swarm has moved five times in 24 hours. It seems that there were two queens in the swarm, the old queen and perhaps a newly emerged queen, and that is why the joint swarm moved a few times and once the original swarm landed in a hole in a tree it then threw off a second swarm shown in the photo below.
This morning Stuart went with his bucket to try to collect the second swarm by getting the queen so the rest would follow. The bucket has a lid that can be pulled shut onto the top of the bucket to keep the hive inside until Stuart can get it to the hive box to deposit them.
It was a relatively quick process this time. It’s not always so easy, there have been times Stuart has had to get his biggest ladders out and reach up into tall trees to reclaim a swarm. This branch was pretty low in comparison and required a pole but no ladders. I stood with our neighbors watching the action.
It was a successful catch, once the queen was settled in the hive the worker bees fanned a scent into the air from the entrance, which is called Nasonov pheromone, letting all the other bees orient to the queen. The swarm is in this hive and the box is on the truck ready to go to one of our other apiaries before first light.
Usually Stuart works to remove a population that looks like it might swarm into a hive box of its own to preserve our hive numbers. There are times, though, that a swarm will get ahead of him if he hasn’t been able to get into each hive box or is off the property.