I’m so excited, because last night I just chanced to see a dark shape in a little oak tree in the field as I drove by, and instantly recognized it as a swarm of honeybees hanging from a branch. I zoomed back to the house and my husband and I mobilized to put on our bee suits and go capture the swarm and place them gently into a bee box. When they are swarming, they are very gentle because there is nothing to protect other than the queen who is enveloped in the center of the clump.
We had been quite disappointed because when we got back from our vacation the one colony we were nurturing along decided to swarm so we lost half our bee population. Beekeepers try to stay ahead of the game and look for indicators that a swarm is brewing. We would then split off a portion of the population into a new box along with some queen cells that are not far from ready, and if we are lucky they become a new independent colony and voila – a new hive is born.
Since we missed this opportunity, we realized we would probably not get any honey again this year due to too few bees to generate a surplus. However, hopefully the swarm we caught yesterday is from somewhere else and we now have a whole new population ready to start working for us. If we bought a colony with a queen, known as a “nuc”, it would probably cost us up to $200. Not bad for one day of beekeeping work.