The Bee Busters save the bees…. Again
Swarm report July 2014
I was scheduled for minor surgery yesterday. When I was in the recovery room minutes after my surgery, my wife entered and announced she had just received a swarm call from South Republic. I convinced the doctor I didn't need much time to recover - I was just fine. So we jumped in our car and drove back to Marquette and picked up our equipment. We drove out to South Republic and found a nice swarm about 10 feet up a Spruce tree.
We set up a ladder and dropped the swarm into a box. We took the box down and cut a hole in the side and placed the box on the ground where a small number of the bees had fallen. These bees commenced to march into the box.
If you look carefully, you can see bees around the entrance fanning their wings. These bees are spraying the scent (pheromone) of the queen out of the box to tell the other bees where she is located. The other bees will congregate where they smell the queen.
After we collected the swarm, we gave the bees to a beekeeper in Palmer.
He poured the bees out of the box into a beehive. Again, some of the bees can be seen around the top of the hole in the hive fanning the queen’s scent to the other bees. Here is the new home of the bees.
Why do bees swarm? When bees swarm they are reproducing. Each hive of bees is a separate genetic entity because there is only one female capable of reproducing in the hive. When the bees sense their hive is becoming overcrowded, or just when the spirit moves them, they will swarm. The old queen will leave the hive with a swarm consisting of about ½ (or sometimes more) of the bees in the hive.
The workers in the original hive will produce a new queen. A queen bee is merely a worker bee that is fed royal jelly during her growth. The bees will select an egg left by the old queen and build a queen cell of wax around it. They then feed her royal jelly causing her to grow into a queen. This is how the bees that are left behind the swarm will keep their hive going.
Beekeepers don't like swarms since it reduces the numbers of bees in the hive and so reduces honey production.
The swarm will then seek out an object to attach to usually not too far from the original hive. They can congregate high in a tree or even on a man-made object. They then send out scouts to look for suitable locations for a new hive. When the scouts return to the swarm they will do a dance for the other bees indicating the direction and distance to the new hive location. The dance also conveys an assessment of the quality of the proposed new hive. The bees will eventually reach a consensus about which scouted location is best. They will then depart and go to the new location to set up their new hive.
Superior Beekeeping Club
Serving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan