I was hoping that my "survivor" hive wouldn't swarm, but the bees had other ideas. Two to three weeks ago, I had made a decision not to split and checked all frames for queen cells - none. As soon as I left the hive the bees held council and decided to begin building queen cells. Ironically, I opened that hive the morning of July 1st to show an example of a good brood frame to a Channel 10 reporter. No hint of the impending swarm to come that afternoon.
This swarm was a sight to behold as they boiled out of the hive and eventually concentrated 15 - 20 feet up in a maple near the original hive. They formed two clusters about 4 feet from each other on different branches. I have seen many swarms over the years but never 2 clusters at the same time. Bees do throw off multiple swarms on occasion, but two at the same time has not happened in my experience.
My daughter, Cassandra, stepped up to help me capture the swarm(s). We hived the smaller swarm without much trouble then things went downhill. Cassandra held the tree as I used the chainsaw to cut the tree and "hopefully" slowly lower it to the ground. As the video clip shows, it fell pretty fast and Cassandra set records for the ten yard dash. Sorting through the branches and shaking what was possible into the catch hive, produced (by miracle) the queen inside. We put the hive next to the pile of bees and they immediately began to march into the hive. If you haven't seen this before, check out the clip. It always amazes me how the bees figure out she is inside and then begin a march - not flying. As you watch, imagine it to your favorite marching song. Oh, by the way, it started pouring rain as we were in the middle of doing the second cluster. Pictures were by David Vore - note his dash when the tree came down.
Checking the next day, the large cluster was doing well. I still have reservations about the small one and I will go into it in a few days. This could have been a swarm led by a virgin queen. If you have any ideas, please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.
Beekeeping continually excites, enthralls, and challenges me year after year. Hopefully, it will do the same for you and if you haven't yet started, step out and begin.
If you have not already done so, place yourself on the UP Beekeepers Map - just click on the page and add your info.
Keeper of bees.