“A swarm in June . . .” No, make that two
The noise got louder as I walked up the hill. It was coming from the vicinity of the middle hive stand, which is on a steep incline. At first I thought the swarm was down the hill from where I stood, so for a few moments I thrashed through the underbrush looking for it. But as I listened more carefully, I realized it was overhead. My fleeting hope of catching it was dashed.
It took a long time to pinpoint the swarm because the racket from the other hives was confusing. But I finally spotted it, high in a red alder.
If you know anything at all about the Pacific Northwest coast, you know we grow trees like nobody’s business. They go up and up—nothing like those cute little saplings they have back east.
Now, nearly any bee book will tell you that a newly issued swarm will land within a few yards of the parent hive while it re-groups and decides where to live. Well, this is true if you’re talking about the horizontal direction. But while these bees landed about three yards east of the hive, they were many yards away in the vertical direction. Books never tell you that.
This was a huge swarm, much bigger than the one in the cypress. But even with a telephoto lens, I could barely see the thing. I examined the three hives below it and, of course, I couldn’t figure out where it came from. They all looked just as busy as before, although I’m sure it came from one of the three.
So, with two swarms treed within minutes of each other, I decided to check my bait hives. Three of them already had looky-loos—bees flying in, then out, examining the exterior, going back in. House hunting, I suppose, then checking out the local schools, shopping, parks, and freeway access. The swarm traps, as usual, showed no activity.
I watched the bait hives now and again till nightfall, but the swarms were quiet. It was clear they would spend the night in the trees, discussing moving companies, home inspections, and financing terms.
To be continued . . .