Late season swarms

This August may end up as crazy as last August with respect to swarm calls. I get at least one call a day; my highest volume day was six swarm calls. Did I mention that today is August 1o? We still have a lot of days left! I ended up getting one swarm. (Approximately one-third of the calls I get end up being honey bees, and I send a lot of them to fellow beekeepers.)

swarm, honey bees

Could you work under this condition?

The homeowner was having the house re-sided and adding a four season porch to the deck. It had been there for at least four days and the construction crew described the swarm’s arrival to me.

I was able to scoop half of the swarm into the box. When the other half of the swarm didn’t follow them into the hive, I vacuumed them into a bucket. It was dark by the time I transported the swarm to their new site.

The final hive configuration was:

johnston swarm diagram

swarm, honey bees

L to R: Half the swarm is in the box while the other half is under the window, bees in their new hive, the newspaper on top was eaten through after a few days, the newspaper on the bottom was eaten after a few days

I had a queenless hive which had been foundering for a month. I thought that inserting a fresh queen and a couple pounds of bees could help save the hive. The newspaper separated the new bees from the old and got them all used to each others’ scent while preventing them from chasing or killing the other off. After a few days, I checked to see if the bees ate through the paper and successfully combined their populations. Here are the shreds that I swept out off the bottom board.

bottom board covered in newspaper shreds

I successfully found the queen today! No eggs yet, but there is plenty of pollen, nectar, and honey from the old colony to help the new bees get established.

queen bee, swarm, honey bee

Isn’t she beautiful?


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