June 24, 2008 – Bee Swarm

This week we had a bee swarm on the farm. Bee swarms are fascinating. They occur when the hive is successful and needs to split or reproduce. We happened to see this one swarm on a fence on the boundary between our farm and the adjacent corn field.

The bees, all 35,000-50,000 of them, are fairly docile as they are homeless while the scouts are out looking for new lodging.

We called gj and she ran out and got a “nuc” or small hive box with some frames that used to contain honey to convince them that this is their new home. Beekeepers love swarms in June, because you can double your hives for free. Here she scrapes all the bees into the new hive box.

In this photo, the bees have nearly settled into the new hive while gj is building some new hive boxes for the new permanent hive.

We all know that in games of sport and heart attacks, minutes and seconds matter, well, we found out that is true with beekeeping. As the new hive boxes were traveling towards the nuc box in a cart, literally 45 seconds away, one of the giant field sprayers came down the road and entered into the field despite two people in white suits flailing their arms to attract attention to the driver. The drive into the field literally has six vehicles a year enter it and as it entered the drive, the swarm got spooked and lifted off and headed out across the field. I followed them for about 1/3 of a mile before they got out of my eyesight as they fly a bit faster than I could keep up. If we had left literally a minute earlier or the spray truck left a minute later, we’d now have another hive of bees, but as it is, they are now lost to us.

one year ago…”Anniversary/Roadside Natives”