Nature Notes

Garden Swarm

May 19, 2014
a person holding an insect

April showers bring May flowers. But what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims! And honeybees. This past Saturday a swarm of bees left one of our hives near the garden and took up temporary residence in a nearby cherry tree, fortunately not too high from the ground. Bill Day, our local bee expert, came with a few volunteers to gather the swarm and give it a home in our apiary (no easy task).

Bill put a hive box underneath the branch where the swarm was gathered, and then cut the slender branch, causing the cluster to fall into the box. There was a lot of intense buzzing in the air with many bees flying all around wondering what had happened. Our hope was that the queen, formerly in the center of the cluster, was in the box, which would draw the other bees to her. To our surprise, many of the bees began to cluster upon the same tree again, making us uncertain whether we had gotten the queen or not. There wasn’t any clear way to tell as there were so many bees in the box and yet so many on the tree. Even the bees seemed unclear about where to go. We waited and waited, and eventually the bees that had clustered on the tree made their way to the box. Bill took the box to his basement so the bees could calm down in the cool and dark environment.

On Sunday this new colony was introduced into its new hive within our apiary and all is well.