First swarm call of 2015

First swarm call of 2015

On Friday Mark got the phone call that kicks off one phase of our year: the first swarm collection request. (Unlike some folks, who panic, this lady has a nephew who is a beekeeper, and she simply wanted these to go to a good home and “not go to waste.” Thanks, Renee!)

With the weather we’ve had — cool and rainy for so long! — it was a bit of a surprise. But, Friday was very warm, breezy and beautiful. (In fact, we’d already spent part of the holiday cleaning out the chicken coop and busting beaver dams!)

We organized our gear, drove to the country, and quickly determined we had a Big Bunch of Bees.

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So big, they’d bent the branches of the bush they’d landed on.

Mark grabbed either end of the biggest branch, told me where to cut it, and soon had shaken the bulk of the swarm into a waiting hive box, complete with frames already waxed out. (This allows the bees to spend their energy and resources on gathering honey and pollen instead of producing wax, which takes a lot of time and effort!)

We left them to find their way in, and Mark returned after dark that night to pick up the box full of bees.

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They are currently on our front porch. In fact, since I took this picture, we’ve added another deep box because they needed more room!

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The other hive is one that overwintered on the porch. We combined two small swarms and now all three boxes are full of bees, so we are considering it a successful management decision. The holly bush in the background is blooming, which gives the bees easy access to food, so we hope the new swarm thrives.

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