Though spring is getting off to a slow start here in South-Central Kansas we are quite excited about beekeeping again this year! Winter left us with some mixed feelings, as we lost three of our hives, bringing us down to just five at this time. These remaining hives look strong and we’re hopeful that they’ll produce well this year. However that does leave us with fewer hives than we’d like and we’re hopeful that you, dear reader, might be able to help us out with that.
Two years ago we caught thirteen wild swarms of bees, while last year we only managed to capture three or four. We’d love to recruit you to be our eyes and ears this season and let us know if you see or hear of any wild swarms in your area that aren’t already claimed by another beekeeper. For your assistance you can count on some sweet repayment of honey from our hives. So what do you look for? And why are the bees swarming in the first place?
Swarming occurs when a colony of bees outgrows the space they’re living in. This is the way that honeybee colonies reproduce and form new colonies. Approximately 60% of the worker bees will leave with the queen in search of another home, while a new queen is bred in the original hive. You’ll mostly likely see a swarm hanging off the side of a building, on a tree branch, or even on a parked car. While stationary the swarm really doesn’t pose a threat to you; they’re mostly focused on protecting the queen at the center of the swarm and sending out scouts to look for the new hive location. Here are a few examples of what you might see;
Photo credit left to right: PerfectBee.com, EssexCountyBeekeepers.org, DNAInfo.com
I also found a video that shows a swarm nearby its original hive.
So if you’re willing, please keep an eye out around your property and in the places that you frequent this spring and summer. If you see a swarm please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling/texting us at (316) 804-8765. We very much appreciate your assistance in rebuilding our apiaries!
Aside from swarm hunting I (Ryan) have been trying to find time to work with our backlog of beeswax and refine it into some usable products, as well as search for some other marketing opportunities. There may be a solar wax melter in our future. Ken has set up a queen castle and is attempting a new venture of making lots of nucs and splits this year, but that’s a story for another time. We’re mulling over the idea of attending the farmer’s market here in Newton for the first time this year, and if you feel strongly that we should, please let us know! There’s still honey available!
All the best,