Monday, April 26, 2010

Bee's Swarming

I had built a couple of very large Flikker, Hawk and Owl houses out of our old 'Jemez Mountain' barn wood a few years ago. One Son put one high in a tree. It was used by a family of Hawks one year. He has Hawks often looking around for a home. I may have to build him another one, seeing as the Bees have occupied his original. We have the other 'Hawk Hive'. Both are prolific 'Bee Colonies' presently. These 'Hawk Hives' produce swarms quite often.

Yesterday a 'Bee' man (Jim Hess) came and rescued two swarms from a tree near our 'Hawk Hive'. He was happy to get them, his first swarms for the year. They are really nice little Bees. We were happy to save their lives. When I called the county extension service, she told us who to call. As a young 'Buck', working with my connon sense (rare today), multi-talented, French-Canadian Grandfather, I had helped harvest honey from his Bee Hives.

Three days after our present Bee colony swarmed, the weather got really cold here in New Mexico. (under 40 degrees) Windy and rainy, just as they finished their 'Swarm' (deciding who goes with which Queen) they formed into two 'Bee Balls'. Their 'scouts' went out and could not find a desireable cavity to move into. Without a home, they started to build a small 'comb' of intricately designed 'bee's wax', right on the tree branch (visable in above image, at 1 o'clock). They most likely would have all died while their swarm was blown apart, and if Jim didn't get them into proper hives. It snowed again on our mountain last night.

Fun to watch the Bee man capture his new swarms. He climbed the ladder, held a cardboard box under the 'Bee Ball' and bounced their branch down on the box.

They all dropped into the box in one clump, he taped it shut and the box was a 'buzzin'. The second swarm was a little more difficult. Higher in the tree, they sort of missed the box and fell all around him and the tree. Apparently the Queen got in though. He taped all openings, but one small thumb sized hole where the Queen's Pherimone (smell) could waft out. Within about 20 minutes, the rest of the Bees (well most of them) all flew into the little hole and joined the queen. "They will live happily ever after". :>)

The larger eyed Drones (slightly larger and 'buffed out') live and fly but one time, to Mate with the Queen (slightly longer) on her only 'Wedding flight'. Drones can not even feed themselves upon maturity and die soon after their 'Sex'.

The loud buzzing frenzy during the formation of the two swarms, was what attracted me to the yard during their 'Orgy'. I stood in among them with no threats, amazed by the clouds of fuzzy little airborne bodies. Drones can not sting. They and all of the other swarm, are interested in one thing only..Sex and it's outcome. The Queen stores their 'fertilyzer' in chambers for use in her lifetime career, the egg laying process. If she is not really good at it, another queen is fed 'Royal Jelly' and created by the workers (females). The 'daughter' will then seek out and kill her 'Queen Mother' and take over the hive. Sort of like some Historical families?

'Dadant' online, sells Bee Hives
  • even for do it yourselfers. They are $115 for the starter 'Garden Hive'. The 'Do it yourself' hive assembly kit is $59 and you can put it together in your garage. Looks like a person handy with tools, could earn a few dollars. This site also among other interesting things, has kits for Mead (honey beer) soap and candles. Bees are having trouble at this time. They can be perfectly healthy, and within two weeks, their population can all 'collapse'. Help Bees prosper at every opportunity, Our lives depend on Them to pollinate our crops...
    Never ever kill or wreck havoc on a swarm. Call your County Extension Agency.

    During a quick pass through a Goodwill store (one of my passtimes), I found a large hinged (easy to clean out) wooden box of the same shape and size of our 'Hawk Hive'. I stopped in at Lowe's and bought an 8' x 12" x 3/4" pine board to complete the enclosure using stainless steel screws, a sloping roof with overhang. Now to quickly finish this other Hawk Hive and hang it in another remote area of the yard.

    I also used Linseed Oil on the outside of the other one, and the Bees didn't seem to mind. Hopefully a few bees swarming, will send out their 'scouts'. They will recognize their ancestral Hawk Hive configuration and start a New Colony. Creating 'Swarms' is a fun way to help Bees. :>)
    In The United States of America, our "One Nation Under GOD"

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