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Beekeeping, Honey Bees, Swarms

Of Swarms and Inspections 2014: I can’t be bothered counting any more

As of this writing, I think we have finally come through the swarm season. However, I thought that at the beginning of June, only to have the following, which I had drafted in mid-June happen. I was just too weary of it all to publish another instalment of what was beginning to feel like a swarm-dedicated blog.  Also, this particular swarm was caught by our friend, Tony, on camera, which is why the snaps look so professional. I had more than enough good photos to choose from which took a bit of time….

What happened in mid-June….

Was this a Friday the 13th joke?  Can a swarm swarm? Or are they just having a laugh? Because the primary cast from these pesky garage bees, collected over a month ago into a nuc, transferred two weeks ago into a brood box definitely looked liked they were swarming this morning. This wasn’t robbing; they made their way as one up to the very top of our very tall pine tree, well out of our reach (thank God!).

Within an hour, that thunderdrome noise as if they were on the move. But I was distracted as we were having a load of tiles delivered, so all I really saw was some traffic on the face of their brood box that looked suspiciously like unswarming. Quickly peace reigned.

Once we finished unpacking and making sure that the tiles were all in one piece, got our suits on and opened the hive to add a super. Not only did the box not look overly crowded, but the new frames we had given them were not completely filled. So what gives?

At any rate, I weary of the blame game, either them or us. As I said we added a super, but actually it’s “and a half” as we did not have a spare queen excluder. Maybe if this queen is really eggy this might give her a bit of roaming space.

But They Were Determined to Swarm and Determined to Be Caught….

as that following weekend, just when our friends, Jo and Tony,  were leaving after a cheesy dinner (that was, a dinner of cheese, bead, salad etc, the result of us going on a binge of cheese buying in the week), we spied a swarm right above the greenhouse. We looked at the other hives which were trying to look as innocent as possible. So, was this a swarm from one of ours? Or a swarm of foreigners? Who knows? Anyway, I immediately called the lady who had wanted some bees last time, only to have them disappear. Yay! She still wanted them.

So we trudged on out with the suits….

From a size perspective, looks like a primary cast...

From a size perspective, looks like a primary cast…


A writhing , drunken mass of aggravation...

A writhing , drunken mass of aggravation…


Can we tempt you with this lovely box?

Can we tempt you with this lovely box?





No? Here, let us assist you. Watch out for that rough landing!

No? Here, let us assist you. Watch out for that rough landing!



Meanwhile, back at the hives: 'Are you kidding? Don't you remember, we are the numerically-challenged hive. If we swarmed there wouldn't be anything left!'

Meanwhile, back at the hives: ‘Are you kidding? Don’t you remember, we are the numerically-challenged hive. If we swarmed there wouldn’t be anything left!’



Us? We are the This-Is-Not-a-Third-Hive hive. By definition, we can't swarm if we are not a hive, right?

Us? We are the This-Is-Not-a-Third-Hive hive. By definition, we can’t swarm if we are not a hive, right?


Bee School

It actually felt like I went to bee school at the end of June. Actually, I gave a beekeeping presentation to one of the local primary schools–50 Year Ones (First Grade) and 50 Year Sixes (5th-6th Grades). It was really a lot of fun; informative for both sides, as I learned a lot just by giving the presentation: why are bees yellow and black? How do they mate? Why is comb hexagonal?  Of course, it’s not the kind of thing you could do on a regular basis as the equipment alone takes up a lot of space and time: observation hive (lucky to have one lent to me); nuc; nuc made out of cardboard; smoker, frames in various phases, honey comb with crystallized honey in it;  beekeeping hats; hive tool; beesuit and boots; beekeeper. Just transporting the observation hive was nerve-wracking enough.

What did the kids take away from it? Judging by their letters: that bees mated in mid-air (the Year Sixes were learning about sex-not from me, but in another class, so they loved this fact.  See for yourself here); that honeycomb is sticky; the difference between wasps, honeybees, and bumblebees (and why, when a bee lands on your arm, you shouldn’t let your brother repeatedly throw a ball at it). Oh, and they liked my accent; various attempts at guessing where I was from included Canada, Australia, and Scotland?  Ah, does Scotland already sound like a foreign language….


Next Post: Birds, birds, and more birds. We are up to our eyeballs in baby birds here. And they are not shy about making incursions into the conservatory and even into the house in pursuit of worms. Just so long as they, like the bees, know who is boss….


14 thoughts on “Of Swarms and Inspections 2014: I can’t be bothered counting any more

  1. It seems to have been one of those yares our hive numbers have gone up and donw and we have learnt a lot, mainly that there are no rules or norms! The bees decide.

    Posted by Susan Dixon | July 8, 2014, 12:33 pm
  2. You know what would really show them who is boss……. getting another hive 🙂

    Posted by deweysanchez | July 8, 2014, 10:33 pm
  3. It must have been very rewarding to speak to the primary school children, this sort of education is very important as so many people know so little about bees.

    Posted by philipstrange | July 9, 2014, 4:08 pm
    • I agree, Philip. It was really enjoyable, and they were so enthusiastic. However, other ‘facts’ seemed to have crept into their minds which were attributed to me. I found that their teachers had spoken to them as well, so I assume that’s where they got things like ‘you are more likely to be in a car crash than to get stung by a bee,’ and ‘human beings could not exist without bees.’ I know I did not say either, not being a great lover of a media meme….

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | July 9, 2014, 4:59 pm
  4. I love your comment about looking around to see the guilty hive when you see a swarm. You just can’t tell. I had nine swarms this year from only three hives. I had two swarms land in two different places, at the same time, FROM THE SAME HIVE. I had a swarm hang out in a tree for two nights, then disappear to my relief, but then it showed up in another tree. “I thought you moved on!” I had no place to put it, so I let it stay there for 5 more nights…but like you said “it was determined to be caught.” I put it in a spare Warre hive so I could make good on my agreement to give a Warre hive to the bee club’s new apiary. Hopefully, swarm season is over now…(Last time I said that, was two swarms ago)
    Nice going on the presentation to a bunch of school kids. I bet it was sort of fun.

    Posted by solarbeez | July 12, 2014, 4:37 am
    • A hive swarming twice at the same time! That does beat all. You do seem to have your share of determined bees. fingers cross, ‘it’ is over. Kids were a lot of fun, but I was glad I got to leave after all. A lot more commotion in modern classrooms than when I was a slip of a girl….

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | July 12, 2014, 10:38 am
  5. I would love to know where my swarms are going. I now have 2 hives with hatched out queen cells in them, no eggs and, as far as I can see, no queens. I’m hoping they’ve gone off to mate and to return but I have lost at least 2 swarms from one hive and 1 from the other. They’ve just disappeared! No big clumps of bees hanging out in trees just half empty hives and frantic queen cell production. I hope I get better at this…maybe they can tell I’m an amateur and are off to find someone who knows what they’re doing. Or maybe I was sold homing bees and they’ve all flown off home to be sold again to another unsuspecting beginner!
    Still, at least the local honey bee population is being boosted!

    Posted by livelightlyuk | July 14, 2014, 3:17 pm
    • Remember, generally speaking, a swarm is a sign of a healthy hive. They have been so productive they have run out of space and need to move! You are not as bad as you think, and we all can stand with getting a bit better!

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | July 14, 2014, 4:17 pm
  6. oh dear. I’m dreading spring arriving here in Australia…I’m sure its going to be a big swarming season for us too. I promise myself that I will be diligent and vigilent but I know I won’t. I know those pesky bees will fill themselves with bravado and honey and swarm and swarm and swarm…

    Posted by spiceandmore | July 15, 2014, 3:33 am
  7. I cannot like anything for some reason, so I am just leaving this comment. Thank you for your time.

    Posted by canaf | August 18, 2014, 4:36 am

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