Summer Recap: Swarms

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than two months since the last blog post! The bee season is quickly coming to a close and I feel like I’ve got so many tasks left to complete! It’s been a summer full of swarms, trap outs, honey processing, beekeeping events and some massive steps forward with our product line in preparation for 2011. Over the next week I'll be discussing all of these topics in detail.

Swarms: This year we had a long list of customers interested in populating their top bar hives and Warre hives with natural swarms rather than packages or nucleus colonies. After a chaotic spring and summer catching swarms and doing our best to coordinate pickup with customers, we are investigating simpler methods to provide honey bees to the foundationless beekeeping community. This may include a combination of top bar and Warre nucleus colonies from our own apiary as well as swarms to supplement.

Early this Spring I built around 20 top bar hive nucleus boxes, which are essentially 7 bar top bar hives with two entrance holes that can be closed with corks. They have the same internal dimensions as our full-size top bar hives, making for easy transfers for our customers (and for me!). They are the perfect size to throw in the trunk of your car or in your back seat, as swarms generally choose the least convenient times to make themselves known. As I would catch a swarm, I’d take it home and line it up next to a half dozen others awaiting pickup by customers, or to use for requeening or supplementing our own colonies.

Here are the nucs lined up in our back yard:

Top Bar Hive Nucleus Colonies

Working full-time in another career, running the beekeeping supply business, continuing education and attempting to be a good husband and dog owner makes time hard to come by. With so many swarm calls this season (at least 100), I became relatively picky about the swarms in order to increase efficiency. If the swarm was too far out of the way, or required more than a step ladder to catch, I generally passed the swarms off to more eager, less picky beekeepers and I’m glad I did!

Here are some photos of our Warre hives that a swarmed from neighboring colonies and decided the roofs were good resting places:


Swarm on a Warre Roof

Populating a top bar nucleus colony with a swarm:

Populating Top Bar Nuc

A very large swarm hanging from multiple branches of a tree:

A very large swarm hanging from a tree

Lastly,  here's a video of a swarm leaving one of our Warre hives earlier this year:

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