Spring 2017 Swarm Report

The persistent cold and rainy spring in central NY has marginalized a lot of the field activity of the bees. Still, in between drops, there are winter survivor colonies that are making honey from a fairly abundant stream of flora. And the swarm season persists as well, the result of many genetic and biological impulses, despite the odd weather. During the little breaks of sunshine and warmth colonies with queen cells on board are eager to cast out their offerings. Twice I’ve seen swarms emerge, then within minutes cast an after-swarm as well. I think it is prudent for beekeepers to be prepared to gather swarms during this swarm season. I predict it will be intense and persist longer than usual.

I enjoy catching swarms to retain my best use of these productive farm animals. While I increase my colony numbers I appreciate the healthful brood break they undergo while I admire their amazing vitality. Swarms are hard working and generally healthy bees, ready to build comb and begin brooding, storing nectar and pollen. An example of learning from Nature this is a characteristic that we can replicate when we produce nucleus colonies. The trick is to capture the swarm. Many are lost while we’re unaware, or they land in some high branch, then fly off into the World and they are lost as apiary workers. I appease myself the swarm has improved the health of the colony. If we’re lucky we’ll find them in one of our bait boxes and can return them to the apiary after all.

Last evening I discovered this swarm in a favorite swarm tree next to our Problem Child Apiary. Enjoy this video produced by Jimmy, my visiting Swiss brother-in-law .