Monday, April 18, 2016
Swarm #2 happened the day after Swarm #1. However, this one we managed to capture on video as it was happening!
Over the past two years, we only ever stared up 40 feet in the trees waving good riddens to our swarms. They were finally kind enough to land in a 5 ft shrub, so we successfully captured our first swarm and rehomed it in Green Hive. They’re doing great.
The next day (Sunday) we had a second swarm. Interesting that all of our swarms have occurred between 11 and 1pm, mostly on weekends. This one definitely came from Mint Hive. I managed to video record the swarm as it was happening, which you can see on YouTube above. Pretty cool, especially for those who don’t know what swarms are and have never experienced one.
Quick recap – swarms are actually good for the bees and a signs that they are healthy and thriving. Not a fun for the beekeeper if the colony is lost, but healthy and natural for the bees. It’s their natural way of splitting the hive and making more space so they can continue reproducing and bringing more wonderful bees into the world. We need them desperately, so if that’s what it takes, then so bee it!
Below is a photo of the cluster. Yes, these are ALL bees! Not a nest, not a hive…just 100% pure bees clustering around their queen and waiting for their scout bees to come back and lead them to their new home. Amazing creatures, indeed.
Blue Hive Goes Bye Bye
The 2nd swarm was successfully captured and rehomed in Blue Hive (see photo below with the poop deck attached). There had been lots of commotion in front of the hives for several hours after, but everything calmed down and I thought all was good, until I checked Blue Hive the next day. The entire swarm had absconded and Blue Hive was left empty.
New Beekeeping Term – “Absconding”
In the beekeeping world, absconding means that ALL of the bees left the hive and moved on – unlike a swarm where the queen splits the hive, taking half the bees with her and leaving the other half behind.
New colonies are the most common absconders – a newly hived package of bees, or in this case a newly rehived swarm that decides their new home doesn’t feel like home. A colony can abscond at any time, even years after being established. Yep, a colony can just pack up and go…poof, bye bye. They always have their reasons though, usually because they’re bothered by something related to their living conditions.
My thought, in the case of Blue Hive, is that the swarm was too large for the 8 frame medium box I had dropped them in. The 2nd swarm was much larger than the first. In the future, I’ll set up two 8-frame medium boxes rather than one. I had planned on adding the new box within a day or two, but they didn’t hang around long enough for that.
My other thought is that maybe the frames hadn’t aired out long enough so they didn’t like the smell. Could bee a combination of things.
They were Texas bees, very hearty and good honey producers, but a bit hot tempered and quick to swarm. I’m hoping to get a split from the Pennsylvania bees that I had queened back in the fall. They’re well-mannered, mite resistant, they’ve reproduced nicely, and they overwintered well. We just have to see how well they produce honey, but I’m willing to split them anyway. Afterall, it’s about the bees, not about me getting honey. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. :o)