A Story of Summertime Bee Swarms

| 7/16/2014 4:34:00 PM

Windy Meadows FarmOn a lovely spring morning, I went out as I do first thing each day to visit the chicken coop...time to let the girls out to stretch their wings. But on this day, I heard buzzing, loud buzzing. And looking past the coop, it was as if a black cloud was spiraling upward. Instantly I knew our beehive had swarmed. 

My one hive ... I only wanted one. That was enough to keep me busy, and after all, I was still learning about becoming a beekeeper. Our neighbor has five hives, and a friend has 30 ... but one, that was just right for me. I knew a swarm wasn't good, but I also knew if I acted quickly, I just might catch it. Why? I guess it was just instinct ... I couldn't let them leave. After all, they survived the Polar Vortex and minus 29-degree winter temperatures ... I had to keep them!

I ran inside, put on my beekeeper's suit, and was back out the door in a flash. I knew that swarms land anywhere from 1 to 20 feet high, and only about 50 to 100 feet from their original home. I looked quickly, and spotted them. Of course, they were more than 20 feet up on the outer edge of a branch. I knew there was no way I could get to them ... safely. So, I watched as the scout bees soon lead the black cloud to their future home.

My neighbor had a nuc for sale, and I knew our original hive wouldn't produce much, if any, honey this year. So I ordered, then painted a new hive, and together we installed her nuc of bees in the new hive. Beehive 2 was happily sitting next to my original hive. That's OK, I told myself ... if I can handle one hive, two will be no problem. I left looking forward to our future honey.

Ten days later, same morning routine, I heard it again ... THAT sound! But this time I was ready. I had my nuc handy, a sheet, and my suit was on in record time. I whipped up some sugar water and put it in a spray bottle ... I was out the door. My original hive had swarmed again and landed about 6 feet up in a nearby tree ... carefully, I began to follow the rules of catching a swarm.

I spread the sheet out on the ground, sprayed the nuc frames with sugar water, and set the nuc under the swarm. Carefully I gave the branch holding the swarm two swift, but firm shakes and looked on. Happy (relieved?) that the majority of the bees landed in the nuc, I watched as the others climbed up the sheet ... it was as if they were magically following the Pied Piper.