Journal Of A Long Strange Trip
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  • Bee Wrangling

    Posted on May 8th, 2009 Dirk No comments
    Spring time is when the attention of young men turns to young ladies, the birds start to build nests and bees do what bees do. And just what is it that bees “do”? They make more bees. More bees means that things rapidly get crowded on the home front. This is when the bees will start to raise a new queen. Once that new queen is about ready to emerge, the old queen will swarm out of the hive with thousands of worker bees to start a new colony. This is how bees reproduce new colonies.

    A swarm preparing to cast off.

    A swarm preparing to cast off.

    If a beekeeper has been paying attention to their hives, you can manage the tendency of the bees to swarm uncontrolled. If you see that the bees have built queen cells to raise a new queen you can split the hive into two. You are just trying to manage what the bees are going to do on their own. If you don’t, you can end up with a cluster of bees in a nearby tree. Swarming bees are pretty docile, but to most people is is a rather frightening sight. When you are a backyard beekeeper, swarms tend to cause you to lose the goodwill of your neighbors.

    A swarm of bees in a near by tree.

    A swarm of bees in a near by tree.

    This is the look you might wear on your face as you fight a losing battle of trying to capture a swarm. You can provide a hive for the bees to move into, but sometimes they just don’t accept it. Beekeeping is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t really “keep” bees. You provide hotel accomodations in return for honey and pollination services. If the bees decide to “check out”, you really are not going to stop them. If you do provide a home that the bees accept, then you can see a most marvelous sight. The bees almost march into the hive to setup house keeping.

    The face of a not-so-happy beekeeper

    The face of a not-so-happy beekeeper

    On this day I had two swarms out of my hives. One of the swarms flew off. The other swarm I managed to capture. The second swarm I was trying to capture as a rain storm was moving into the area. Sometimes the weather can be your ally.

    I went into the winter with seven colonies of bees. One of the colonies died out because of lack of food. Because I was able to capture this swarm, I am back to seven hives.

    A swarm marching into a new hive.

    A swarm marching into a new hive.

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