The weather was very pleasant today, so I thought I’d take a walk through the neighborhood with my husband Mr. TellBlast. Work was not using my on-call, so I put on a pair of gym shorts and thought that we could catch up with each other for a few minutes.
While I waited for him to finish his work, I planted some basil. The air felt so nice against my bare calves. Then I heard my hive humming, which was unusual. However, when I looked up at them, nothing seemed out of order. Returning my focus to the basil, I went around the front of the house, grabbed a milk jug from the garage, and headed for the rain barrels so I could water my transplants. Then I saw the picture below. Now, I know, I have a lot of bees in my yard, but WHERE DID ALL OF THESE BEES COME FROM?!?! They were three deep, at least, on top of each other and many of them were circling the hive in the air. NOT NORMAL.
Bees like to fan their hives by ‘bearding’ in a single layer on the front or side of the hive for a constant 93 degree F “body temperature” when it’s hot, but today was not hot. I think we hit the mid-70’s. And they weren’t in a single layer. After consulting with “A” of GAIN, I suited up and looked for signs of natural splitting (swarming). I found a queen cell, which is a sign, so I moved it (another way to say this, is that I split the old hive in two) to a new spacious hive of its own.
The bees didn’t seem to care that I was in their business. I probably didn’t need to suit up or use smoke. I closed up the new hive after I added some friends and food, and all the bees seemed to stop the odd bearding. What a happy ending. I wanted to spend time with Mr. TellBlast, so I just unzipped the suit and changed shoes, took off on a walk through the neighborhood for thirty minutes. Sidewalks are pretty revolutionary for us since we didn’t have sidewalks outside the front door for most of our combined youth.
Out of curiosity, we looked at the hives when we got back. I think the queen cell was an evil bee trick on me. What we saw (and heard) in the first photo above was the home bees ‘greeting’ an outside swarm. The outside swarm stayed outside during the smoking (bees move deep into the hive when smoked) and stayed hidden under what I call the hive’s front porch. We noticed it right away upon our return because the home bees were inside their hive, and a tight ball of bees was left outside and under the porch. I took the above photo and tightened up the frame. Yes, there is a swarm down there.
The front porch hangs over a cinder block by a few inches, and it was dripping with bees. Using the “phone a friend” option, I was directed to remove the lid and see if I had a lot of bees inside. Yes, I had a lot inside. That confirmed that the bees under the porch were an outside swarm.
They were extremely easy to move to the new hive. I wiped them off the porch with a stick and onto a board. Then I poured them into the new hive. Unfortunately, most of my spare equipment was at a house where I’m using a trapout on a bee tree, so in the coming weeks, I’ll need more hive boxes and frames. It’s a good thing I enjoy shopping for bee stuff.
I de-saturated another image, taken post-walk, to get a better look. No bees covering the front of the hive, no loud buzzing, no perceived movement. Just a tight clump of bees.