Friday, May 20, 2011

Swarmin' Bees, Ahoy!

Well, if you have been watching my Twitter feed, you may have noticed I heard a funny noise coming from my bee hive last Tuesday. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it was loud and it was something I had never heard before. I quickly looked it up on the "internets" and found many YouTube videos of "queens piping".  Lo and behold the queens talk to each other. The Old Queen pipes to new unhatched Queens. What are they saying? I scoff at the multitude of people insisting it is
a call to Battle. If it was a call to battle why would they do it before they swarm. They have no need to battle then. The old queen usually leaves the hive with her constituents before the new queens even hatch.
If they don't leave before the new queens hatch (because of rain or cold) they still don't battle it out. They just hang out with each other, waiting for the weather to improve and then off the swarm goes.

Yes, then the new queens duke it out, but until then, several queens can be rummaging around in there.
This is what happened to my Women's Honey Collective #1. They got all built up (thanks to my open bar of syrup and pollen patty) and when the day came to swarm it was cold and rainy.
I'm pretty sure that is what they were piping about. "Is it still raining?" "Yep, temperatures dropped too. Man I should have looked at the forecast before I packed and told everyone we were going."
On Wednesday about 2pm I looked out into the brief break in the rain to see a tornado of bees swirling in dramatic sun rays about 20 feet from the hive.

As luck would have it,  I was the only one home so I suited up in my cleanroom bunny suit I got for $5 at the Rebuilding center and my bee hat and gloves and went to gather my brave bees into my duct taped bee box.
Why, who filmed this amazing documentary of Phoebe bravely gathering thousands of bees in a leaky cardboard box? Me, Phoebe. Juggling bees and cameras is just one of my many homesteader talents!

I was very excited to start my new improved hive.
I sent my video around to my friends and my brother in law. He has bees too. He wrote back the next day saying he was still looking for another swarm. So my bees obligingly SWARMED AGAIN that afternoon. I didn't film that one. I was tired. It was a nice swarm though. We guessed nearly 3 pounds. I think it was slightly bigger than the one I caught the first day. Buck ferried that swarm to their new home in Portland (in the leaky box).
Hive #1 and #2 and #3 are doing just fine despite the substantial reduction in numbers. Bees are so amazing. Or as June says every time I tell her something about the bees "Bees are sooo weird. You know that don't you?"


  1. Wow that was fast. Talk about some good timing.

  2. It's so exciting to read that the swarm I gave to you now has grandchildren!!! Good luck with this new colony! Having more than one hive gives the beekeeper some comparison. My two hives have completely different personalities. I love watching BV (Bee TV) in the spring.

  3. Robin, Yea I guess you could call it good timing or just in time :-)
    Holly, My brother in law says the same thing , that each of his hives has it's own work ethic.
    I am wondering how you feel about beeing a greatgrandbeemom at such a tender age?


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