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BLOG - Notes From the Farm - 33

Posted 5/21/2009 10:14pm by Leaf Myczack.

Good bee news for a change  ( From April 27th)

With all the disheartening news about honeybees dying off, my wife Cielo and I got to witness a rather unique occurrence this afternoon. But first some background.

A few days ago I was checking our one remaining hive, and I noticed that it was vigorously growing in size. Thinking they might soon be out of room and swarm, I moved a partially filled (with last year's honey) deep super (box) from a hive that froze this winter to this remaining hive. A couple of days later when I checked, I noticed a lot of drones returning to the hive. They had obviously been out flying in large numbers. My thought -"must be a new queen getting mated."

Two days ago, I noticed about 30 or so bees noisily buzzing about some empty supers I had stacked up under the back steps. Their flying and buzzing was notched up considerably from bees just out working. I had seen this before, but didn't realize that they were a scouting party looking for a new home. Yesterday they were back, so I went to the bee yard looking for a swarm hanging in the old hackberry tree there. Nothing.

Before I went to bed last night, I made a mental note to make a bottom board and set up a hive body just in case. After some early morning garden work, I then constructed a new hive bottom board, painted it, and set it in place. I then went indoors for lunch.

After I ate, I was in the process of washing my dishes, and noticed out the window that there seemed to be an awful lot of bees buzzing around the yard. I went downstairs to check the hive. To my utter amazement and joy, thousands of bees were draped in a long beard from the new bottom board. By the hundreds they approached the entrance slot and entered the hive. I put on a bee veil and opened the hive. Bees were swarming over every surface. The air was full of buzzing bees in a high state of activity.

I sat and watched this activity for quite some time. These bees had done the dance of the swarming funnel, a truly spine tingling event. Then cleansed and energized, they had eventually come to this, their new home. No factory raised (artificially) bees, shipped in a box could ever match the energy and vigor of this swarm. This was the way nature intended them to spread and multiply. Within a couple of hours, they were inside and hard at work building comb and cleaning out the debris.

Where did the swarm come from? I checked our existing hive, and observed no change in numbers. We'll never know where they originated from, but we were grateful that they came to us on their own. Maybe they knew they would be safe to act naturally and would be free of toxic chemicals at the Broadened Horizons Organic Farm.

Bees come, bees go  (From May 20th)

In an earlier post, I told the story of how a swarm of bees flew to one of our empty hives and moved in as a colony. We received this "natural world " gift with much gratitude. Then yesterday, while cutting hay near our bee yard, I saw our biggest (most bees) hive swarm out of their hive and up into the old hackberry tree that shelters the beehives. They were out of reach, even on an extension ladder. I rejected the idea of cutting the large branch they were hanging from, as inappropriate treatment for this wonderful old tree.

I set out some empty hives, hoping to attract bee scouts and perhaps lure the swarm back. Five hours after they swarmed, it became real still up in the tree-the moment for them to move had arrived. The bee ball quickly came apart as the bees took to flight. With much buzzing and flying about, the swarm began to slowly drift west southwest toward the house and one of our empty hives.

I stood and watched, even walked under them a bit as they were moving so slowly. Then I stopped and watched this bee cloud continue its WSW drift, and it soon became apparent, they were heading off the farm.

I watched them slowly fade off toward the distant tree line. I was disappointed that they were leaving, but I was also mindful that this created another "wild" hive that might increase the native density and survival of bees in our area. And for us the bottom line is "What is best for the bees?"

This was a great lesson in the circle of give and take. In truth, who can really own a bee? They serve their own nature, and while we may manage them for awhile, ultimately, they operate without regard to human needs.