June 26, 2011

Bee swarm part II

Alden holding a drone. A worker bee in our remaining hive is fanning the nasonov pheromone.

We never located the bee swarm after they left, but we knew they had to be somewhere nearby. We only want the best for them and will be happy as long as they are happy, blahdy blah, but still it would be nice if they would just realize that the best place in the neighborhood really is in our backyard and come home. The weather was cool and rainy all week, so I thought we might still have a chance this weekend to impact their decision. Since I'm halfway though Honeybee Democracy (fantastic book, btw!) my head is filled with crazy ideas about tracking and eventually coaxing our swarm back to our property with a fresh new hive filled with comb, the ideal cavity volume, and a south-facing courtyard, etc. These are all qualities of a nest site that are highly valued by scout bees, so my thinking was that since our swarm was probably still nearby going through the bee equivalent of the neighborhood real estate flier, we'd swoop in with an offer so good, they'd be fools to pass up. Our family made a trek to the local bee supply store today and returned victorious with a fresh set of supers, complete with matching frames. Kerstin had barely unloaded the trunk when our neighbor approached us and inquired about our bees.

"Um, they swarmed on us last week, why do you ask?"
"Oh, my friend and I were walking the dogs by the llama farm down the road and saw a massive cloud of insects heading for the open pasture on the other side of the farm. At first we thought they were flies and then I realized they were bees. They aren't yours, are they?"


We jumped in the car and drove down to the farm and the pasture to see if we could catch of glimpse of them on their way out of town, but alas, we were too late there too.
We're still building the new hive and plan to put it out in the field anyway. We hope that another swarm will find it attractive to them and take up residence before it gets too late in the season to build up the honey reserves to successfully overwinter. We are all quite taken with our bees and hope to increase our apiary to 3 or 4 hives by next year. In the meantime, the ascendent queen has probably offed her rivals and will probably take her wedding flight soon. More drama is still ahead of us until she starts laying. Stay tuned...

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