Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Swarm season

  • The rules.

  • The second swarm of the season formed on a tree limb down on the farm this afternoon; this time we had a camera.
Swarm season is upon us. The bees get restless and want to leave the hive. First the rules:
  • If you see a swarm, don't panic. A swarm is generally a good thing.
  • DO NOT use insecticide to try to kill a swarm. Bees are way to valuable for that kind of treatment.

  • Swarms are fairly benign and unlikely to sting.

  • Call your local police or fire department and ask for their list of beekeepers. Or call a beekeeping friend. Any beekeeper will love you for it.

  • If you simply do nothing, the swarm is likely to go away, usually within 24 hours.

We had our second swarm down on the farm on Wednesday afternoon. We had one a couple of weeks ago, detailed here. This one gathered around a couple of limbs in a maple tree near the garden. Sally discovered it when she was mowing part of the lawn.

The swarm was about 15 feet off the ground, but we were able to reach the limbs and consequently did not need a ladder.

This seemed to be a larger swarm than the first one. By the time we saw it and gathered up the gear, it stretched along the limb for several feet and looked pretty fierce. The most difficult part of this swarm was placing the new hive box correctly under the swarm so it would drop into the box. I was never totally successful at that. Still, enough of the bees dropped into the box when I shook the box so that they got the idea that this was their new home.

The bees that were left gathered around the limb again, and after a few minutes, I shook the limb again, and more fell into the box. Even more bees fell to the ground around the box, and I could see them start to migrate into the box. I decided to leave them alone at that point, and eventually, the number around the limb began to dissipate.

Check out the slideshow from Picasaweb:

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