A Gentle Ball of Bees

I just happened to drop in on my country hives today as a splinter colony was taking flight. (I’ve chosen to use the less alarmist terminology for that particular phenomena of honey bee behaviour.) I was alone, only had my cell phone and couldn’t film myself shaking the bees into a new hive body. So there’s not much to learn from this short video. But if you’ve never seen a sw — I mean a splinter colony up close before, take a look. (It’s not the highest-rez video. Sorry. Couldn’t help it.)

If it looks like a scary situation, it isn’t. Only bad neighbours make it a scary or stressful situation. It was more calming for me than anything. I had somewhere I had to be, so I couldn’t sit back enjoy it as much I would have liked to, but it was an amazing thing to witness.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2014: I was dealing with two swarms and didn’t know it. It was tricky because both swarms landed on the same branch. Both were re-hived, though, and the new colonies are doing well.

DECEMBER 17, 2015: I just read an article at the Bee Culture web site about something called a swarm bucket that may have made my catching of this swarm (or swarms) a little less complicated. It’s basically a bucket with a cone made of screen built into the lid, so it acts much like a bee escape. So imagine a swarm hanging from a branch. The little old beekeeper shakes the swarm off the branch into the big bucket and then puts the coned lid on the bucket. If the queen is in the bucket, all the stranglers will eventually go through the cone to get to the queen but won’t be able to get out once they’re in. Then said beekeeper just picks up the bucket of bees and goes home. Of course nothing in beekeeping ever goes as planned, but in theory, it sounds wonderful. And plausible. I plan to build at least one of the swarm buckets for next year.

4 thoughts on “A Gentle Ball of Bees

  1. Nice swarm Phil. The other year with my “Splinter a Cell” was July 19th and I still got abox of honey. feed the snot out of them for 10 days (top hive feeder) and I think you. Could still score a box from them.

  2. I believe it, Jeff. I dropped by yesterday to give them a box of honey, pollen, drawn comb, empty frames — the works — and they were already building comb underneath the inner cover. I’m loading up a honey super today to give them something to work on.

    It makes perfect sense that they’d want to build comb after swarming. Their guts are full of honey and the first thing they’d do in nature after finding a new place to live is build comb.

    I plan to document the re-hived swarm’s progress. It should be fun.

  3. Note to self: Always bring a camera. Today I saw a queen emerge from a swarm cell (a swarm cell I happened to be holding in my hand) and I didn’t have a camera. Damn.

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