swarming in maine by Harriet

Bees swarm in the spring to divide their colonies when they outgrow their hive.  And so it happened in Maine in June that we found a  swarm from Dan’s hive up in a small bush.

Dan: Granny's honey, McKay's grandfather, Harriet's father-in-law, & beekeeper

In a swarm, a reigning queen flies off with half the worker bees in tow. She leaves a new queen to stay behind and assume the old throne.  As  you can see this in the photo below, the worker bees in the swarm cluster in a tight entourage around the queen. They rest while scout bees look for a suitable place for this new colony to live. The queen considers something hollow an ideal place to start again, and the rest of the bees are attracted to the queen’s pheremones and will follow her wherever she goes, loyal subjects to the end.

Harriet and her sweetheart with the swarm

Sweetheart has placed an open man-made hive with natural beeswax under the branch holding the swarm, and he will shake the branch and the bees will fall into the new hive, and voila they will have a new home.  We will leave the hive under this branch until night to give the scouting bees time to smell their queen and enter that hive. Then we will move the new hive at least 5 miles away from the old hive.  Bees forage 2.5 miles so moving them beyond that range reduces confusion about where to return home.

Jake placing new empty hive under the swarm

Swarming season is near over now because the bees need plenty of time to raise more brood and to store honey in their hives before the nectar flow is over in the fall. So until next year at least,  Dan’s bees should stay put in their hive nestled between Granny’s hen house and her mermaid pool . – by HiHat I

Granny's hen house and Dan's hive

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