Last (and first) swarm of the season

The other day… well really June 25th, my phone rang at about 6:00pm just as I was sitting down to dinner. It was Margaret. “Guess what?!” she exclaimed. I took a wild guess: “your little hive bees swarmed?” “Yes!” she said. “Want to go on a swarming adventure and catch them?” so about 10 min later when I had finished eating, I gathered my bee supplies and headed out to catch a late swarm of the season.

It was quite the adventure of the day! David and Simone (Margaret’s son and his partner) were there to watch and take pictures and Billy witnessed the excitement from the kitchen window with his binoculars. There they were, thousands of buzzing bees all clumped up together hanging from the branch of an apple tree. Margaret cut the branch the bees were on while I held it and gently lowered the whole cluster of bees and branch into the box and put on the lid. Hardly a buzz to be heard… it was a very smooth swarm catch!

We secured the box onto the top of the ladder to let all of the bees get in and later that night Margaret closed the box and moved them into a sheltered place under a russian olive tree waiting for us to install them into the hive the following day.

We carried the box over to the new hive location after the evening goat milking. With the false-back just after the 11th top bar toward the front, we removed 9 of the bars leaving on each end to serve as a sort of lip for the bees to get into the hive. “Vhooom!” They were in with a bustle of energy. As the bees crawled up to the top of the hive, we replaced the top bars and sat by the hive, waiting for a bit to make sure they seemed content and satisfied with their new home. Everyone was crowding on the landing board sticking their butts up in the air “fanning” to let the other bees- and the world- know where their new home is. We watched as they all slowly made their way into the hive until only a few bees remained on the landing board. What a late season adventure it was!! Ironically, this very group was the one Margaret and I caught in mid April from one of my hives that had been hers the previous year. Hopefully these girls will be happy in their new home and find lots of nectar to keep them through the winter safe and strong. What a great swarming season it was!! All in all, backyard hive and bee guardians around the area caught about 70 swarms  this season. Whew!!

~Photos courtesy of David Hollander~



Filed under Swarms in Boulder

4 responses to “Last (and first) swarm of the season

  1. Kate

    How many of your 70 captured swarms are thriving and look like they’ll be in good shape going into the winter? Out of the 5 swarms we caught in GJ, only 1 is doing well – most were fairly small swarms and rather late season catches.

    • Hi Kate,
      I’m actually not sure about all of them. It would be interesting to do a survey sometime to get the stats on that. Out of 20 or so swarms that I’ve been closely involved with, I know that about 5 of them either aren’t doing too well or didn’t make it this far. Sorry I don’t have a better answer for you. Maybe sometime soon we’ll do an email survey and get the info on that and post it to the blog.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. bees4communities

    hey Claire!
    Its Eliese! I saw this and thought you guys would love this!

    I hope that your fall is going fantastic! We should chat soon!


    • Hi Eliese,

      Great blog! Thanks for passing that along. How interesting about the sounds and vibrations of the bees. I’ll pass it on to Karen and Corwin too. Looks like you’re up to some really cool things up there! How fun about the school honeybee awareness projects. Yes, lets definitely chat soon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s