One tree, three swarms
The next morning the two swarms were right where I left them–one in the Leyland cypress and one in the red alder. I was annoyed because I had a noon meeting in Auburn and wouldn’t be able to watch them. When I left the house the day was sunny and clear, and I knew the bees would be gone when I returned. Still, I worried about them all day.
When I got home in mid-afternoon, I could immediately see that the swarm in the cypress was gone–or so I thought. But when I rounded the corner I discovered bees on the other side of the tree: not one swarm, but three! How did this happen? At first I thought the swarm had just moved to a different branch and split up. But there were many more bees than before. Had the one swarm moved? Or were these three entirely new swarms? And what’s with this tree? I have 20 other Leyland cypresses and no one seems to care.
Was I really seeing three swarms? Or was it two covering three branches? They were high up and it was hard to tell. I realized everything I have read about swarms was leaving me clueless.
The one thing I do know is that the swarm high in the red alder tree was still there–so it wasn’t them. The two swarm traps and four bait hives were empty, although each was attended by scouts. All my hives were busy and seemed unchanged. Weird.
When my husband came home we sat in the front yard watching the three swarms–or however many it was. But all of a sudden the bees seemed restless–lots of flying around, lots of activity . . . and then they were airborne. Like magic, what was once a solid object was now part of the firmament–and heading south.
Not long afterward we discovered both swarm traps were full. For years I’ve been claiming swarm traps don’t work and now, simultaneously, they each swallowed a swarm. I was amazed. I concluded there must have been just two swarms in the Leyland, and they each selected a trap. But what are the odds of that? Like zero, right?
Because bees were everywhere and unsettled, I decided to leave the traps alone until morning. But when I got back to the house, I noticed that one of the swarms was still in the Leyland cypress–the middle one of the three. Now what are the odds of that?
I took swarm inventory once more before nightfall: one in the alder, one in the cypress, one in each of the two swarm traps. Hmm . . . What I don’t know about swarms would fill many volumes.
To be continued . . .