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Archive for the ‘swarms’ Category

Early Swarm

Small warm

We’ve seen some strange sights in bee-land this winter: two queens laying eggs on the same frame, drones that over-wintered with the hive instead of being evicted in the fall, and now a swarm in January – weeks ahead of schedule. But this may not be a true swarm. I suspect that these bees were dislodged from their home for some reason (might have to do with our recent 3 inch rain) and thought they could move into our gentle teaching hive next to the honey house. The teaching hive bees are gentle toward us but were not to these strangers – stinging them to drive them away. If they get into the hive, they could kill my good queen and I would lose all of those gentle genetics in a few short weeks, especially if the swarm queen were Africanized. To help my bees I pulled the suspect queen out of the swarm.

Here’s a shot of the swarm queen before we bid her a fond farewell.

Foreign queen meets her end

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I was surprised to get a call for removing a swarm of bees at a local nursing home this week. I’m not sure why a colony would swarm during the hottest, driest part of the summer, but there they were. Swarming is usually nature’s way of making additional bee colonies. In fact, sometimes you hear old-time beekeepers call it “artificial swarming” when they divide their hives. This swarm was about 15 feet from the ground. From the bed of the truck I stood on a chair. With one hand I reached up to pull the branch down to the hive box that I held up in my other hand, then with one hard shake of the limb the bees fell straight into the box. I took them right away to the Mill Creek bee yard and fed them. They seemed happy when I left but I’ll go back and check on them next week.

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Spring Swarms

Belmont Swarm

This past weekend we had two swarm calls at two different locations though they were somewhat near each other. One in Gonzales County at the Pizza Yard (though fortunately NOT from our actual yard hives) and one in the Belmont area, which is before you get to the town of Gonzales. The above picture is an example of what a swarm might look like out in nature. Below is an example of when the swarm finds a home not in nature, but rather in someone’s garage! Roger, the homeowner, told us he’d seen bees all day (he just didn’t know they were scouting a home) and early evening, he noticed a LOT of bees suddenly swoosh into his garage and then land on the paneling to the left of where Mark is in the picture. Then, they went under the cabinet. Good thing he got us there that evening because Mark said that it was the best time to have gotten them out. By the next day, they would have already started a home there and that means they would have been defending more. That would have made the job more difficult. Thanks, Roger, for being such a supportive and great bee yard landowner!

Swarm in Roger's garage

Below is an example of a swarm out in nature, which is what we got Saturday morning in the Belmont area. We met Bud out on his property (our first time meeting and he was such a nice person!) and he showed us the swarm he’d spotted.

Old home & swarm location next to it

In the picture, the dead tree on the left actually was the former home of the swarm. I know this because as Mark gathered the swarm into the box, I snapped pictures of the tree because I loved the way it looked. Through my lens, I could see bees up high and I wondered why they were way up there. So I watched. And I was patient. And after making a circle of the tree, I found their entrance! It was so cool!

Old home of bees

I love accompanying Mark out on his beeventures because I am constantly learning new things each time. And this time, we met a new friend AND I got to see feral hogs to boot. There were four in the cage (picture on Facebook) and what I didn’t capture in the shots were the 10+ hoglets outside the cage. Yes, I know the official name is “piglets” but I like hoglets. 🙂

You can view all the swarm pictures in the new Flickr Swarms 2011 Album I created. Enjoy!

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