Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Swarm, argh!

Today some of my bees swarmed! It was just a little swarm, the size of a grapefruit once they bunched together in a tree next to the hives. It's uncommon for bees to swarm at this time of the year, so late in the season. But mine did. It's the first time I've had a swarm from my hives....


That dark clump in the middle under the grapevine leaves is a swarm of bees.



Here's a close-up with my 210mm lens. In the centre of that ball of bees is a queen. While still in the hive, they made a new queen. One queen flies off with the bees, one stays behind in the hive.




Poor little things don't have much hope of making it. It's very late in the season and there's not enough time for them to build up adequate stores of honey before winter. I asked my beekeeping friend Pierre for advice and he said just to let them be. There's not a whole lot I can do for them; I could catch them and put them in a small nuc hive, but from what I understand, it's dubious they'll make it through winter.



I'm sorry to lose these bees but it was pretty cool watching them congregate around the queen. I checked and they were still in the tree at dinnertime. They send out scout bees to look for a new location for their hive (like a hollow tree), and this can take up to 48 hours. They have enough honey in their "honey stomachs" to last them a week. After that, they will starve if they haven't found a new home. 

I'm inspecting all the hives this weekend, so we'll see what's going on then!

21 comments:

  1. Can you have another hive for them to go to? Or ask Sam to come get 'em?

    ReplyDelete
  2. How sad they decided to relocate so late in the season. It reminds me of a baby pigeon that was hatched in September outside a window at work several years ago.
    There were no longer enough insects or other food for the mother to feed it and it died after only a few days. Biological clocks aren't always logical!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Poor pigeon! :( Nature can be cruel, can't she?

      Delete
  3. Very interesting animals. There so much to learn about them. I have always heard of swarming but this is the first time I've seen it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently it is very impressive when a big swarm leaves the hive, rising up en masse.

      Delete
  4. They ran away from home? Why? these must be the ones who rebelled against their Queen, and followed a new one. I feel sorry for that Queen in the middle of that swarm!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WHo knows what their little bee brains were thinking! Sometimes it's congestion in the hive, but that wasn't the case here. :(

      Delete
  5. Oh no....what to do, what to do? Could they be fooled into a honey filled hive?
    About how many are in the swarm...can the hives afford to lose that many?
    I'll stop with all the questions...
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could have caught the swarm but it was so small, it's unlikely it could have built itself up sufficiently to last the winter. I like to think they found a nice hollow tree to hunker down in.

      That swarm was really small, maybe 1,000 bees? WE checked all the hives on Monday and they all had queens and sufficient populations,so they could afford to lose a few! A full hive can have something like 60,000 bees or more!

      Delete
  6. Wow, incredible. I learn so much about bees from you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! And I still have so much to learn myself!

      Delete
  7. Wow, cool. But I feel sad for their fate. Of course, others such as Bald-faced hornets, who build big 'paper' nests, all die at the end of summer and just the queen lives on to found a new colony next year. Fascinating beings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bumblebees die off like that too. BUt the honeybees try to soldier on! Amazing how they survive the winter.

      Delete
  8. Nat! You must save them! Call someone to pick them up! I understand, they need a hive with enough honey to make it through winter. But still, it's sad. Is this just because a new queen was hatched, so this is what they had to do? Bees are so confusing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a bee?!

      Delete
  9. Nature can be very cruel, but I suppose this is how it's designed. Maybe there's a reason for it that we don't know about!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's hope so, poor little things!

      Delete
  10. Should I send Old John, the beekeeper over? I'm sure his 85 years of beekeeping experience would be useful - he began when he was 10 years old and he's 95 now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing! Yes, do send him over!

      Delete
  11. Wow! Bee intervention. I hope these bees survive but understand nature and it is not always living happily ever after. So interesting though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm just going to tell myself that they went off and found themselves a happy home in a big hollow tree!!

      Delete

Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.