Swarm Season by Ernie Daley

Swarm season, but they never read the book ! (originally posted June 10th, 2015)

With swarm season upon us many club members have experienced losses while some have been fortunate to capture a swarm of unknown origin.  Suzanne Page has an excellent video demonstrating the benefits of being ready with all the equipment needed to be successful should you be fortunate to get a swarm catching call, worth a look.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-qhZ1KPPYQ

I have been reading Honey Bee Democracy and am fascinated by the complex, sophisticated yet sensible and simple way that the scout bees and ultimately the swarm decides where to set up shop.  I have set up a couple “bait hives” in what appear to be ideal locations, in addition I have built a “swarm box” of exacting proportions and mounted it at the recommended height and orientation.  Since then I have observed scout bees checking out the swarm box, but no one moved in.  After setting everything up for the apiary there are always a few extra boxes and things which are not needed, these I store behind the wood pile against a shed on the ground.  Not too long ago we noticed a few scout bees checking it out, I did not think much about it because I have seen it before.   The next time I looked there were more scout bees (as in the book, these ones made the most convincing case for their choice to the other bees).  Then a day later the box is full of bees !   So these girls did not read the book, so often we are bamboozled by the bees, doing all the research, getting everything just so and the bees have different ideas.

The location they chose?  An abandoned (no drawn comb, only never used plastic foundation) pile of boxes on the ground in the shade of the wood pile and shed.

So happy to have hived a swarm without even trying !  One thing as always, the learning goes on.  Looking at their chosen location made it clear that they need that late afternoon shade, and looking at my other hives in the apiary I realised that the shade could be better so now my next project is to get them a bit of screening shade built before the long hot summer that is upon us.

So if you have not yet read the book Honey Bee Democracy, I highly recommend it.  And when you finish it you can lend it to the bees because apparently they have not read it yet !

Happy swarm catching

Ernie D

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