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Bees in Idaho: a beekeeper’s first swarm

Your first swarm is soooo exciting! Ken Rhodes of Idaho Falls built a little platform for his swarm trap in the crotch of a large tree. Then, while he was at work, his very first swarm moved in. Ken’s son, Jeffrey, was lucky enough to witness move-in day and caught the action on his cell phone.

I love the fact that this gorgeous tree is in town, right next to the street. Good job! Thanks to you both for some great photos.

A beekeeper's first swarm
As you can see, the tree is in town, right next to the street. It looks like a great place for bees. © Jeffrey Rhodes.
A swarm in Idaho
The swarm trap is wedged in the tree and balanced on wooden supports. © Jeffrey Rhodes.

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Comments

john zone 5
Reply

So cool! Thank you ken and Jeff for the pics.

Richard Caton
Reply

Wow! That is really cool. Nice catch Ken. Now the fun begins. I wonder how you are going to pick that hive off the platform without a mishap.

shavon
Reply

Hey Rusty! I hope this finds you well. I am a second year beekeeper who has never had the swarm experience. But I think I have an impending one on my hands. Is it true that they will do a few practice swarm flights before the actual swarm? I had my hive in a super sunny & hot location (near the adjacent lane & all my neighbors). Neighbor saw them swarm flying & called. I was able to observe the swarm flying around. It didn’t last long as they soon settled onto our fence then back onto the outside of the hive & eventually back inside. Do they practice swarm flying before actual swarming? Thanks so much. LOVE your blog & commenters. I have learned so much!

Rusty
Reply

Shavon,

No, honey bees do not practice in preparation for a swarm. Sometimes a swarm leaves but the queen doesn’t come along, so the swarm has to return and try again another day. But if all goes well the first time, they do not return.

shavon
Reply

ok ok ok. I see. I def didn’t see the old queen on the lading board at any time. But it was mega cool to watch them all fly like that & my neighbor was amazed that I wasn’t getting stung (I gave him a little lesson). Because of this swarm I had to move this hive to the very back of my property, which is the best spot for them. I’ve got a bait hive setup now on the outskirts of the apiary that I need some swarm lure for & I am just hoping they will pick that location when they do swarm as I want to let them swarm than me make a split. I need to get that Seely book, too.

Ames
Reply

I just had 3 swarms in 2 hours despite my best efforts making splits. 2 were housed just fine, the third one went back to the original hive after 3 hours.

The next morning they swarmed again, this time to the top of a pear tree. I used my orchard ladder to climb the 16′ to reach them only to have a branch snap and the bee ball of 25K bees fall onto my head. Had to keep my cool as they flew all around me regrouping. After cutting the branch I lowered them down and shook them into a hive.

Between splits and swarms I just went from 4 hives to 13. Yikes!

Rusty
Reply

Ames,

That’s got to be some kind of record!

Kat F
Reply

Great pics !!! I’ve caught 2 swarms in my bait hives but didn’t get to see either one arriving.

Ken Rhodes
Reply

It just so happens that I have a very sturdy 12ft step ladder that I used to easily place it in the tree. I will use it to get it down. (Believe me, I considered what needs to be done before I placed it there). I will do this in the next few days after the water in the yard where they are going dries up a bit. (It is flood irrigated—7 acres of alfalfa in the country).

Rusty
Reply

Ken,

Seven acres of alfalfa? What a great place to see native bees!

Ken Rhodes
Reply

Native bees abound in Idaho Falls. That would be my next project, to be able to identify many of them.

By the way, I was able to relocate this swarm to the place I mentioned earlier. I did it on Wednesday night, the 14th. It was quite heavy, full of bees, so I placed another box on top when I got them settled. Only one sting. I hadn’t accounted for the few bees outside of the box when I lifted it out of the tree and then descended down the ladder. Well, one of them nailed my ring finger on the knuckle just above my ring. I was a bit worried about swelling, but even though I couldn’t get my ring off, it didn’t swell too badly. (I could just imagine my finger swelling so much that my ring would cut off the circulation and I would have to cut my ring off). Alas, worse case scenario, it didn’t happen. I am happy, bees are happy, and the tree is empty. (Kind of miss them up there).

Ken

Rusty
Reply

Ken,

So maybe I should go to Idaho next month. I’m trying to decide on a destination for a (native) bee trip. Was thinking of central Oregon, but Idaho might work.

Also, read “Will the circle be unbroken?” Good advice from me!

Ken Rhodes
Reply

Thanks Rusty, let me know if you decide to come, I can show you around a bit. (I promise to let you do your own thing). 😁🐝

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, Ken. I will keep you in mind.

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