March, April, and May are swarm season in our area, and the Durham County Beekeepers Swarm Patrol (opens in a new window), headed by Matthew Yearout and Donna Devanney, has been busy. A swarm lands in someone’s yard, that person calls the Swarm Patrol number, and the request is distributed to a list of local beekeepers. So far this year, I haven’t seen a swarm (well, except the ones from my own yard) because:
- The bees swarm when I am at work (can I justify taking time off to catch swarms?)
- Someone gets there first (shoutout to OCBA here)
- The swarm leaves (to find a more permanent home)
- The swarm lands in a really tall tree (I am not equipped for a 60-foot climb–yet!)
However, last night the bees decided to make swarm collection super easy. I had just arrived home, later than usual because I sat in traffic on I-40 for awhile, when I got a text that there was swarm in North Durham, so I grabbed all the essentials and headed up 70. When I arrived, I immediately knew that I could collect the swarm. It was about 12 feet off the ground on the lowest limb of a Bradford Pear tree. After some assessment, I decided to balance a hive body on the top of my 10-foot ladder and try to move the bees into the box. With the Sample family and their neighbors watching, I climbed the ladder and scooped the bees off the limb into the box. Within seconds, the bees started fanning (see below), which was a sign that they had accepted their new home. I hung around, answering questions and talking to the onlookers, as I waited for the stragglers to find their way to the box and left as the sun was setting.
It was a perfect swarm for a perfect Durham night!
Thanks to the Sample family for sharing the experience!
Listen to the swarm fanning their new home: