I was planning to enjoy a much needed half day off work this afternoon with a quick trip to Whole Foods and lunch at home with the husband when we noticed what looked like a crazy level of bee activity near our hive.
It turns out – our bees have swarmed. We haven’t inspected the hive yet, but I’m assuming the swarm contains only some of our bees. I hope it’s not all – I would be so sad to lose our bees before we’ve ever collected any honey.
Anyway, the swarm has now congregated in a tall tree in our backyard.
I immediately grabbed my bee bible – literally it’s The Beekeepers Bible (and it’s awesome) to see what we should do.
Here’s what I’ve learned about swarms:
- Swarming it totally natural behavior, but can be prevented with some careful action by the beekkeeper.
- Swarms are generally very docile – they have no honey or egg cells to protect.
- Swarming occurs in spring or early summer and is usually predicated by queen cells that can be seen during an inspection. Queen cells are a bit larger than normal worker bee cells.
- Multiple queen cells put you at risk for an afterswarm. It’s best to entinguish all but one queen cell.
Our swarm will send out scouts to look for a permenent new home, and they will then return and perform a dance to tell the hive of the location they’ve selected. This may take a few hours, or a few days.
In the meantime, we’ve posted on a few Austin area beekeeping forums to see if anyone is interested in capturing and rehoming our swarm. This is generally preferable as it ensures survival of the bees, which is not always the case when they self-select their new home.
Any other tips from experienced beekeepers out there?