A Swarm Comes to Visit
by Donald Ray Burger

March 29 we took off of work at noon. The day was pleasant and I decided a motorcycle ride was in the cards.

After a couple of stops I was home by 1:30 p.m. I checked the tire pressure on the Harley and I was headed back inside to put on my armored jacket and Arai helmet when I spied a strange form hanging from the Mexican Plum tree in the backyard.

I immediately recognized it as a swarm. I swore, not softly. I had delayed adding a second super to the hive and I feared I had paid for the delay with a swarm. Spring had started around the end of the first week of March (a week earlier than normal) and I knew the bees could fill up the drawn comb in a super in two weeks when the honey flow was on. Still, we had had a stretch of cool days and the flowers were a little stunted. I had figured to add a second super sometime that weekend.

The swarm was approximately 15-feet from the bee yard. I looked at the bees streaming in and out of the front of the hive and the activity level seemed just as it had been all week. Maybe it was not a swarm from my hive after all.

Anyway, I called Maria to take a look and then I headed out on the Harley. I returned around 3:30 and the swarm was still there. I took some pictures and Maria called a neighbor to see if his boys wanted to see the swarm. The boys were out, but in a few minutes we had three adults in the backyard to take a look.

More pictures were taken. Maria patiently explained that the bees werenít ours and that this was swarm season. The fact that my bees were still busy going in and out of the hive may have convinced the neighbors, but I had a few doubts. I figured I would check the hive on Saturday to see if half the bees were missing.

The swarm was still in the tree on Saturday morning. However, when we returned from errands around three in the afternoon it was gone. I checked the surrounding trees in my yard and the neighbors yards to make sure the swarm hadnít just moved a short distance. I breathed a sigh of relief as I confirmed that the swarm was no longer in the immediate neighborhood.

Next, I grabbed an empty medium with drawn comb and suited up. I headed for the bee yard to do some spring cleaning of all the weeds that had taken up residence. I then pulled out the old small hive beetle trap and put in a new trap and new vegetable oil.

Finally, it was time to take a look in the hive. I smoked the bees lightly and removed the telescoping cover. Next, I removed the inner cover. I was relieved to see that the super was teeming with bees and full of capped honey. I added the new super and was pleased that the number of bees proved that the swarm wasnít from my hive.

Why the swarm decided to rest so close to my bee yard while the scout bees went looking for a home is not clear. I am not sure the neighbors will ever believe they werenít my bees but I am glad I got to see a swarm so close up.

Written April 10, 2013

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