Sunday, July 3, 2011

UPDATE ON SWARM: THEY CAME BACK!!

I thought I was losing my mind when it happened but a more experienced beekeeper has confirmed it... MY BEES CAME BACK!!

I've never read about it or heard it before but it was exactly what we believed happened after we saw it. About 30-45 minutes after our hive swarmed and were hanging in a clump up in the tree, the swarm broke ranks and were flying all over our backyard. I kept thinking it wasn't possible, that it must be a 2nd swarm. I looked everywhere for the original swarm as I was sure they couldn't have gone far. We were present in the backyard and didn't notice anything prior to this massive cloud of bees returning. The cloud covered nearly .5 acre of our property, they were flying everywhere. I went outside and stood in the cloud, the bees barely acknowledging my presence. I thought maybe the swarm was on the move to another location so I ran outside and put a new hive body on the ground, sprinkling it with lemongrass essential oil as a lure (heard that one works well), and waited. The bees started to pile into the hive body but after about 15 minutes they changed their minds and started to go into the established hive. It took about 20 minutes for them to get settled back into the original hive. I asked a few beekeepers if this was a returning swarm or 2nd swarm and I was assured the swarm didn't return but today I read a facebook update by an experienced beekeeper that their swarm returned home. I inquired about my experience and was told swarms do come back sometimes.

I am curious now. What does it all mean? Were they out scouting for a new location? Will they stay for the season or attempt to swarm again? Our summer season is very short so wouldn't my bees have to stay put since they start prepping for winter in less than 2 months? We were told in beek class that if our bees (in MInnesota) don't swarm by July 6 then we are safe but this hasn't been a normal summer so far so I'm thinking that rule of thought no longer applies. All I know for sure is this experience has been interesting.