It’s swarm season and swarm season is my favorite time/part of beekeeping! Swarming is a natural part of a bee colony but one that is pretty unsettling to folks who see it happening. In the last 10 days or so, I have gotten two good calls about swarms of bees in Charleston.
The first call was from a postal carrier who was walking in a neighborhood delivering mail. He came upon a swarm hanging low in a bush. The homeowner initially wanted to call an exterminator, but the postal worker pulled out his phone and found my contact info. I was delighted to come and take care of the “problem”. Most people are terrified and also fascinated/curious about swarms so I try to describe what happened, what I am going to do and why it is so important to save bees rather than kill them.
So this swarm was easy. I placed my sheet on the ground and my nucleus hive box on top. With a quick shake and a giggle, most of the bees dropped into the box and my work was done. It’s unusual, but I actually saw the queen on the top of the pile of bees. I watched as she marched into the box whereupon I put the lid in place and waited for the rest of the colony to catch up with her!
A few days later, Charleston’s 911 dispatch called me about a large swarm in the middle of the city in a fairly public area. When I arrived, the fire department was in place keeping people away. They had taped off a large area and were waiting nearby patiently. I whipped in and saw a very large swarm stuck to a solid concrete retaining wall. Luckily, I brought along my handy-dandy-bee-swarm-retrieving dustpan. I am pretty tough but I cannot shake bees off of a concrete wall so I just used the dustpan to gently scoop the bees into my hive box. Easy-peasy!
I am pretty vain so I figure that is most of the reason why I love catching swarms so much. I always get an audience and lots of oohhhs and aahhhs. It’s usually relatively safe and pretty simple to catch a swarm, but I look brave and tough. It’s a vain man’s dream! And on top of that, I get free bees which will (hopefully) make me lots of wonderful sweet honey. Heck, the world needs more bees as well as more sweet honey so it’s a win all the way around!