May 25, 2014 (Sunday)
I was in the garage when I heard it, a loud buzzing hum. I’d never seen one or heard one before, but for weeks I’ve known it was coming. Blue hive had given clear indication and all the time in the world to prepare. Our first swarm…just like the videos. A massive cloud of bees leaving the hive and traveling to the highest tree branch they could find (little buggers!), about 40 feet up onto a branch that appeared unreachable. They gathered into a large clump, at least 5 lbs of bees, then quieted down and just hung there, leaving me staring in amazement of what just happened, excitement at the prospect of collecting my first swarm, and confusion because I had no idea how we were going to get them down. In the meantime, the hubster is freaking out because he thinks the neighbors might see the bees and call the exterminators, or animal control, or some local authority. The fire department with those long truck ladders would be perfect, I thought. I had no contraption prepared, no bait trap made. Shame, shame, shame on me.
Swarms are common in hives that have successfully made it through the winter. It means they’re healthy and productive. They build up fast, become congested, and the queen leaves the hive with half the colony. It’s not a bad thing, unless the beekeeper can’t retrieve and rehive them. Swarms will stay in place for minutes, hours, even days. It depends on how long it takes the scout bees to find a new location. They’re actually very docile because they no longer have a home to protect. Thinking they’d stay put til at least late afternoon, we carried on and planned to deal with them later.
We were expecting my in laws for lunch. They arrived around 11 am, within 15 minutes after the swarm occurred. Our visitors left about 2 hours later and the hubster made a light speed trip to get supplies for devising a bucket conduit. I was supposed to watch the bees. 5 minutes after he left, the swarm began to stir, and instead of watching, I reacted by running to the garage for who knows what…A bait trap?…A bucket? I came back and they were gone. Ugh!!! I had no idea where they’d gone.
What a disappointment. I was angry at myself for knowing it was coming and not having a plan – hard lesson learned. However, I was glad we got to see it, that we weren’t at work when it happened, and that we knew it had happened. Timing is everything with these girls. They do what they want, when they want. Heading them off comes with knowledge and experience. I have a long way to go in that department.
The hubster returned with his conduit contraption…just incase. I walked the yard, listened for nearby screams from terrified neighbors…nothing, nada, all those bees were gone. At least that’s what we thought…