For my area, bees begin to swarm around the first of April.
Swarming is a natural phenomenon in which approximately 60% of the bees, plus the queen, leave the hive to form a new colony. This happens mostly in part to overcrowding although other factors can come into play.
Since I had lost a colony of bees over the winter and didn’t want to buy any, I informed a friend (who is also a deputy sheriff for the county) that if anyone called about a swarm to please let me know.
A few days later, he let me know that a swarm was seen in a yard about 1.5 miles from my house. I loaded up my supplies and went to check it out.
I couldn’t have been luckier. This small swarm was only 8 inches off the ground. I placed my box underneath it, gave it a good shake, made sure everyone made it in and closed them up for the ride home. It was after dark when I got home so I left the bees in the box (it’s ventilated) until the next day.
I already had a hive in place and the next day, I opened the box to transfer the bees
I placed these 5 frames in the middle of the empty hive and placed 4 empty frames and 1 frame of capped brood and larvae from the strong hive I have (making sure I didn’t get the queen) and placed it in with them. I wasn’t sure if I should do that or not, but figured if they had something to tend to right away, they wouldn’t swarm again. Then I placed a top feeder on with sugar-water, put on the outer cover, crossed my fingers, said a prayer, put on my lucky socks and hoped for the best.
That’s when another interesting phenomenon took place.
When I first took the frames out of the swarm box, some bees remained on the inside.
To let these wayward bees know where home is, the bees in the hive come to the entrance and begin to fan a pheromone that tells them this is their new home, please come join us.
I’m not making this up. They actually turn to face the hive, lift their abdomens in the air and begin to fan. This tells the bees that the queen is here and we are staying.
One by one they march in without any help from me
When I checked them April 24th, the queen was laying well and they were bringing in tons of pollen (left side). I will probably add another super next week.
What an addicting hobby.