Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bees and swarming

Yesterday my friend came out to check on the hive and although they are doing well, the biggest hive split. Basically, this means that the hive let a queen bee hatch and she swarmed (left) and took half of my hive with her. Honey-wise, she cut my supply in half, lol, bee wise; she cut my production staff in half. This is the natural order of things for bees though and they way God intended so I am not too upset.

my hives. the oneon the right split.

Swarming usually happens when there are too many worker bees and their number exceeds the capacity of the hive. So the bees will raise a second queen and she will travel to a new location taking half of the drones and half of the worker bees with her. This usually occurs in the spring or summer months. It can also happen around August in my neck of the woods.

The new location is picked out by "scout" bees that are very good at picking out the new hive location. Important things to the scouts include drafts, accessibility, guard ability, size and location. Sometimes they do not find it before the ‘swarm’ has taken place so they move into unusual places such as the bumper of a car, mailboxes and low hanging branches of trees. Low hanging branches is what I am hoping for since we have a lot of trees on the property. I remember the day they swarmed but wasn't 100% sure that is what they were doing. It was a beautiful sight to see, even if I was losing half of my hive. L All of the bees looked like a swirling, moving mass of black and shiny gold moving through the air and into the tree. Our whole family stood at the picture window, watching them in amazement and appreciating the beauty of it all. The kids remarked they were glad they were in the house and not in the thick of it.

So yesterday when Ray confirmed that the hive had split, I was a little sad, but hopeful at the same time. Maybe a little leisurely walk around the property is in order. If I can find them then we can give them a nice clean box to live and work. J There was some good news in that I have lots of honey. The bees haven’t capped it yet so we have to be a little more patient before pulling any honey. I am sure it will be worth the wait.


  1. this is so interesting, what a great post. i am intrigued but intimidated to dive into bee keeping. i love that last picture of them swarming.

  2. That's sad news about your hives, but way to turn it into a fascinating and informative post. I guess they're just doing as nature intended.



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