If you are truly lucky you might come across prancing beekeepers at this time of the year – perhaps not dressed up in a red suit, nor astride a reindeer, but listen closely and they will definitely be humming that anticipated tune ’Tis the season to bee wary, while they catch yet another swarm of ‘free’ bees. I am one of the aforementioned humming individuals who gleefully removes swarms following frantic calls stating that there are bees everywhere and would I please come now!
Catching a swarm always provides an adrenaline surge as one never knows how big the cluster of bees will be, nor if you will get there in time before the swarm moves on, nor if the caller has since swooned. I recently had the pleasure of removing a really large swarm that hung gracefully from the branches of an olive tree. Being vertically challenged I did require a ladder to reach it. However, with only two swift tugs on the branch the entire cluster landed ‘plop’ into my swarm box and all I had to do was swiftly put the lid on and hum “Ho Ho Ho” as I clambered down clutching my precious gift.
The start of spring has been marvelously warm this year in Rodney, hence beehives have been building up their numbers and rapidly expanding in size. It is at this time of year (early spring through to summer) that beekeepers must keep their bees knees well oiled and check their hives regularly for swarm cells – a clear sign that a hive has an inclination to swarm. Prevention is so much better than losing more than 60 per cent of your bees – unless of course one is keen on donating swarms to the aforementioned catchers. From late August through to January, queen cups are created by worker bees on a regular basis, however the queen will not ordinarily lay eggs in them. This pattern changes when swarming is imminent. What amazes me personally is how intelligent and forward thinking bees are because when a queen lays an egg in a queen cup she has clear intent to swarm and leave the hive, yet she is also preparing a future queen who will take her place in the existing hive – collective female wisdom and effective decision making.
Swarming is a natural occurrence that might look feisty, yet rest assured that once the swarm clusters there is nothing to be afraid of and they mean no harm. The correct thing to do is to call a beekeeper who will come and remove the bees for you . For swarm collection in and around Warkworth call Grass : 021 02649674 or Wilf: 027 477 2430, we are both members of the Warkworth Beekeepers Society.
The next WW Beekeepers’ meetings on November 7 and December 5 will be devoted to learning about swarm prevention and other fun aspects of beekeeping.
Info: firstname.lastname@example.org; 021 0264 9674