Bee SwarmThis is a photo of a honey bee swarm that has just set up house, maybe temporary or permanent. These unwanted guests are deemed by some to be lucky as they were valuable pets in older times. Now most people just freak out and think they will be attacked and stung to death. Not so, they are generally very docile and happy to be moving house and in a new neighborhood.

Bees swarm as a means of splitting the colony or propagating the species.This is usually done in spring or early summer when there is lots of nectar and pollen about. The old established hive with a queen starts to become over populated and crowded, so by some unknown guiding mechanism the bees build new queen cells which hatch and usually the first out kills the others. The old queen stays out of this affair and with half the bees from all ages, load up with honey supplies and leaves the new virgin queen inheriting half a functional colony. She flies out on her nuptial flight(s) and may mate with up to 18 male drones.

The swarm leaves early one nice morning and like a humming tornado go to a new place guided by scouts, who may have checked out suitable places days before for the new colony. It may stay or move about a bit but needs to settle quickly for the queen to lay new eggs for new workers.  

Wax is converted from honey to build the colonies structure which can form in an amazingly short time. Then a beekeeper like me is asked to relocate the unwelcome guests, so we carefully shake all the bees into a box at dusk when all are home and put them into wooden bee boxes with frames of foundation to be their new home. Much more comfortable than out in the rain, wind,cold and heat.

I have been a bee keeper since I was introduced to these amazing creatures in the early 80's. The Bees always have lessons to teach, we just need to be open and aware. If you are interested in keeping bees yourself then you are welcome to ask questions, as it is important that more of us learn how to care for these amazing and hardworking creatures.

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