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[personal profile] doodlemaier posting in [community profile] bee_folk
a swarm of honeybees alighting in a lilac bush April 10th: I must be doing something right (or as conventional beekeepers would probably say: "wrong"), this was a third swarm kicked off by Brigid. I'm pretty sure she's honey-bound and every time a queen cell hatches She sees a full pantry and doesn't even bother killing the other unhatched queens, just up and hauls ass. Again, Mrs. called for me to intervene. I didn't have an available hive so I ended up gifting them to a beekeeper Mrs. is in contact with in Culpeper who was able to drive out to Strasburg after I retrieved them.

I spent the following weekend putting together a makeshift fume board and bee escape. The weather on Monday (bagged out of work) was ideal for taking honey with a fumebaord - 80°'s, sunny, very little breeze. The Bee-Quick label claims the bees will vacate the supers between the board and the escape after about 5 or 10 minutes. Two hours after the fact I think I had more bees in the honey boxes than I started out with. The mistake I made was putting a thin wood panel lid on the fume board rather than making it just piece of sheet metal, so the heat of the sun wasn't able to penetrate and fully vaporize the benzaldehyde (Bee-quick's active ingredient). I've got a design in mind that I hope will right the issue, so I'll try again next weekend if the weather cooperates.

I have no shortage of bee-box-building to do. I'm currently gearing up to place a couple of conservation hives with packaged swarms at a small farm in Winchester by May 12th, but I have to build them first. Swarmapalooza is providing bees faster than I can build hives - and that's beautiful thing! Even having gifted this swarm, I'm one colony up from where I was this time last year! In addition to the six splits Chuck procured from Frank he also ordered a couple of Italian packages from Georgia. He said that when he went to pick them up there were beekeepers reporting that they had also captured a number of swarms. 2012 is already known around here as the "Year of the Swarm". The last two weeks of March were unseasonably warm caused, I believe, by a very active sun cycle which I think triggered these early and copious swarms, and is directly related.
Swarming is the way by which bees reproduce. Being a super-organism, when one colony divides into two or more it's true reproduction, whereas laying eggs to replace workers is akin to an individual growing hair and fingernails.

Swarming Queens

Date: 2012-05-08 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Very Interesting site. You appear to be doing good work. Just one comment. You stated that the new queen took a look around and saw the hive was full and decided to leave. The adjacent picture shows a large swarm hanging. It turns out that the older queen leaves before the new queens hatch, or just as she hatches. So the swarm contains the old queen, many foragers and many nurse bees. The virgin queen in the hive then leaves to "mate". She returns and begins laying and if all the timing is correct, the hive survives.

There are a small number of "foragers" that are more curious than the rest, about 6%. This is new. The curious foragers are the ones that look most aggressively for a new hive location. It may take two or three days, then the hive moves to its new home.

You have probably got hundreds of emails on this "who leaves first" question. I hope mine was useful.

Tom Mock at tommock@comcast.net

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