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The largest swarm Louella and I have ever caught was from our own bee hives. This is approximately 50,000 bees
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ground nesting bees and honey bees)
Swarming Period: April 1st through June 15th is the swarming period for honey bees. This is a natural phenomenon for the honey bee in order to divide and reproduce. To witness this amazing feat can be unnerving whether it be through the arrival or departing flights or the temporary swarm cluster itself.
Swarming Flights: Honey bee swarms will appear as large dark clouds of bees flying 10-25 feet off the ground in a swirling, buzzing motion that can sound like a loud whirl as it passes overhead. These swarms are fairly safe and non-aggressive. The only time a person or animal is stung during a swarm flight or warm landing is when the bees are swatted at and trapped against the skin.
Swarm Arrival and Departure Times: Swarms will emerge from existing nests called beehives between 9:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M.
and fly to a temporary resting place with 100 feet from their existing home. This is usually a tree, but can be the side of a building, poles and on fences. They can form a cluster that will look like either a baseball, football or basketball on the average, but can also take various shapes. (click here to see pictures of various swarms)
Temporary resting location: Swarms will arrive between 9:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. and stay until the next day and then leave between 1:00 and 2:00 P.M. While the swarm is in this temporary resting place they will send out scout bees to find a new home. The potential new home that has the most scout bees return and report is chosen as the new home. The swarm will lift off in a huge dark cloud and fly to the new home. This new location will be about 1 mile from the old home. After the swarm leaves there will always be stragglers left behind. These will usually catch up with the swarm or return to the old hive. Either way, within a few hours there will be no signs that there ever were any bees in the area except for small white dots of wax where the swarm was attached to the tree or object. These drops of wax will give off the smell of the swarm and will attract new swarms for a few weeks afterwards.
Arrival at the new home: Swarms arriving at their new home will land all around the entry way and will steadily march into the new home after the queen. This arrival will look very similar to the swarm in the temporary resting place, but once this swarm enters their new home it will be impossible to get it back out except by irradiating it. In cities the swarms prefer canales and down spouts, but will also make new homes in holes in trees, in sprinkler irrigation boxes, wall voids (they will enter around lights and electrical outlets) and under storage sheds and dog houses.
Removing Swarms: Swarm removal should be done while the bees are in the temporary resting place, but if caught early upon arrival at the swarms new home may be retrieved. Before retrieval, a person catching a swarm should be properly dressed to protect themselves from bee stings caused by accidental handling or in some cases from aggressive bees. Place a box under the swarm (get the box as close as possible) and give the limb a strong shake. Place a lid on the box as quick as possible, but leave an opening for bees that are still outside of the box to join with the queen and the rest of the swarm. Within 12-15 minutes the bees outside the box will soon realize that their queen is inside the box and will leave the resting place and join them.
How to prevent your swarm from leaving: We like to move the swarm at least 1 mile away from where we catch it. We have found that if we place it close to the old hive they will leave again with in 1-4 days. We will also take a frame of brood from and exiting hive and place it in the new swarm. When there is open brood present in the new swarm they are unlikely to leave it.
Caring for the new swarm: New swarms need to be fed to grow strong quickly, but their survival is not totally dependent upon feeding. We will mix 1 part sugar to 1 part water (by volume) and place it in a glass mason (or ball) jar with about 5 holes made in the lid with the tip of a 4d nail. Invert the jar and elevate it so that bees can crawl under it to get to the sugar syrup. Make sure the glass jar is level so it does not run out and saturate the new hive. (If you need bee hive equipment e-mail us at: Orders@nmhoney.com and we will send you information on how to build your own commercial equipment or top bar bee hive or where you can purchase equipment. We feed for about 4-6 weeks until the hive is strong enough to start bringing in nectar to make honey. We will also feed a pollen patty (1 part pollen and 1 part sugar with enough water to moisten and from into a patty like you would a hamburger patty)
Bee Removal (Bumble bees, yellow jackets,
paper wasps, ground nesting bees and honey bees)
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