The Perfect Swarm–May 5, 2015

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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:

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