May 21st, 2017
At the Laurel Creek Outdoor Education Centre, we have 4 hives of honeybees. If your bees are healthy, and there is lots of food for everyone, sometimes the workers begin making new queens (that process is for another post). This is a signal for the old queen to plan for departure. This is just a way for the bees to disperse their genes.
The old queen will leave the hive, and half of the bees will follow her. They will land on a branch somewhere, and some of the bees will scout out a location for a new hive. If a bee finds a good hole in a tree somewhere, it will come back and do a little dance. All of the bees in the swarm will follow that bee to the new location.
However, if you find a swarm, they are quite docile, and can be transferred to a new hive. This can save you purchasing a queen and bees to start a new hive.
This is what happened at Laurel Creek last week. There was a swarm on a tree near our hives. These bees were from one of our hives. After the swarm instinct has kicked in, they cannot be returned to the hive they came from. So I called up old outdoor ed. guy, Fraser Gibson. He came up, and with some clipping and lopping, we were able to wrangle the bees into an empty hive. They seem happy in there so far. Interesting stuff.