Monday, July 1, 2013
The Swarm that..... Wasn't
I think my problem is in part because of procrastination. I always seem to be in the midst of dividing one hive when another one swarms.
The procrastination is that the hive I should have started on, the one that was overflowing with bees, seemed like a lot of work so I started on an easier one first.
Note to self: Don't do this. Do the super busy hive FIRST.
The strange thing was that as I heard the loud buzz--some refer to it as a roar--I knew even before I looked up that one of my hives was swarming.
A swarm looks different in the air than other types of flight that bees will do.
Orientation flights often take place around 3:00 in my yard. That's when the house bees come out for some exercise and to practise flying. Maybe to poop too. The times change on which hive will come out for orientation and I noticed it's dependant on which hive is getting the hot afternoon sun. As the sun moves across the yard and lights on the shady hive in a short period of time those bees will come out too. The orientation flights are a back and forth flight that bees do, starting low on the hive and then moving up and over the hive. Sometimes the bee will then fly off on a task or repeat the back and forth motion for a few more circuits and return into the hive.
With swarming, chaos flying would be the best word to describe. The bees are going in every direction in the air. They circle in large loops, looking and watching for the queen. They're probably relying more on smell than they are on sight. You can tell when the queen has come out if you watch their bodies. They will all begin to turn and face the same direction--whichever way the queen is going. Then they head to where she's at.
On this day the bees found direction and started going to that pear tree (again) and at the spot about 25' up (again). (What is it about that spot? I think I'll cut the edges of those branches off--if I could reach them--to discourage them liking that spot).
While I was sitting there watching and thinking it'd be nice to have a miracle where the bees would land in a more convenient spot they suddenly turned and faced the opposite direction.
I watched as they faced the hive again and then miracle of all miracles they all returned to the hive.
Whew! I guess that'd be a false swarm.
I immediately took the hive apart and did a split. I could not locate a queen but found fully capped queen cells. So in this case I did a walk away split by putting two cells in a nuc box which I sold and leaving the other queen cells in the hive. The bees will work things out.