A perfect swarm
A week after the flurry of swarms abated and the summer solstice passed, I decided swarm season was over. As in other years, the swarms happened all at once—a storm of swarms—and now all was quiet.
Although it was late in the day and beginning to get dark, my husband suggested we walk to the upper hives. This was more for exercise than anything else. At first I hesitated, but then I agreed to go.
It was a beauteous evening, warm and peaceful. We trekked up the hill, passing bait hives and swarm traps. We stopped briefly at the top of the hill and then retraced our path.
My husband was ahead of me on the way home. Suddenly I heard an “Ohmygod!” Based on his tone, I assumed he stepped on a slug.
But when I caught up, he was staring at the swarm trap we had passed minutes earlier. Hanging beneath it was a picture-perfect swarm—huge, symmetrical, and so quiet we had missed it earlier. We were amazed.
Because it was getting dark fast, we literally ran down the hill, loaded the pickup with a bait hive, an eight-foot ladder, and a few tools. We drove up the gravel road to a spot not far from the swarm.
I prepared the hive as my husband erected the ladder. When he lifted the trap from the nail, the swarm remained all of a piece except for a few dozen bees that clung to the tree. With military precision, the bees were all parallel with heads towards the sky.
With a solid thump against the hive, I dumped the entire swarm into the top box. It dropped like lead. I have never handled such a docile swarm. It stayed put with very few fly-ups. Maybe it was the time of day or the rapidly dropping temperature. I don’t know for sure, but it was cool.
Early the next morning, I found no bees at the entrance but many bees ringing the outside of the hive near the top. A few had migrated back their former spot beneath the swarm trap. I thought perhaps they wanted an upper entrance, so I made one.
Within minutes, the bees were fanning madly at the new entrance. Within two hours everyone was inside the new hive, including the group from the swarm trap. Now, a week later, the bottom entrance is bustling and the inhabitants are as busy as . . . well . . . bees.