Wednesday, May 28, 2014
To Swarm or Not To Swarm..
The long weekend brought about tons of busy farm activities, but most exciting were the bees. We had two hives survive our frigid winter and though both are strong, one in particular is massive. B has done a ton of research and as a result our beekeeping friend has been working this winter on a Perone hive for us. We were concerned about the hive swarming and have been waiting anxiously for the new one to be done so that we could try to transition this particular hive into the new larger system. Though we were hosting our Tastebuds dinner club on Memorial Day, when B got the call that the hive was done, he raced out to get it (a 3 hour round trip). Timing is everything as they say and when I moseyed out to the garden to pick some rhubarb for a simple syrup the air was alive with a hummmmm.
When I looked over I panicked. It appeared that the hive was getting ready to swarm. Darn it! The bees went from covering the hive for about 15 minutes to bearding at the bottom. The humming decreased and then several minutes later the beard had reduced by 2/3. I did not hear the airplane like sound of a swarm leaving, but I felt it looked suspect. While with our friend, they engaged the help of another beekeeper, the gentlemen whom we occasionally purchase queens from. He settled our fears some as there can be a number of reasons for the sight that I saw.
~ Our day was turning out to be our warmest of the season, and incredibly humid. It is not unusual for bees, in high humidity, to exit the damp hive and air out, then return in.
~ We know that the brood chamber was overflowing. This sudden appearance, then disappearance of bees can be a result of a large simultaneous hatch.
~ There could have been two vigorous queens and we had a small swarm with one of them.
When B returned home with the new hive, he immediately suited up and added the new larger hive below our Warre boxes. Within hours the hive was calm and back to business as usual.
We do not for certain know what happened, but based on visual appearance we lost only a small swarm, if we lost one at all. What a way to get the adrenaline going just before Tastebuds!