Bluff Beekeepers Calendar: April

Bee swarm. Photo by Sichy007 // Creative Commons.

By Dudley Beck

Monday, April 14, checking my email. I notice one from Bill Lincoln from yesterday.

Ring… Ring… Ring.

“Hello, this is Bill.”

“Bill, this is Dudley. I just now noticed your email from yesterday about bees. Where were they?”

“I was out at the Mission. There were a lot of bees up in a tree.”

“How high up? Tell me exactly what you saw and where.”

“In front of the winter chapel, about 18 feet up, I saw a whole bunch of bees flying around. Lots of them!”

“What time was that?”

“11 am.”

“Thanks, I’ll go right now to check.”

So…off I went, with a bee box in my car, heart pumping. I found the tree, but only a few were flying in and out of a knothole in a big branch. I looked all around but could find no swarm. “Humbug!”

What Bill saw was the pre swarm activity outside a colony where thousands of bees are flying around waiting for the queen to come out, at which point they all follow her to land nearby and form the swarm. It is rare to see this because it may only last a few minutes. I’m mad at myself for not checking my email more often. I will from now on. This is also why I’ve asked you swarm spotters to also text, Wes, KB, and me if you see a swarm.

The swarm activity Bill saw was a little early in the season. I checked my colony again on April 22. The queen was active. I saw lots of capped brood, young larvae, and new eggs, but only 5 drone cells (male bees). Also, there were no swarm cells (new queens). Swarms should happen in the next week or two. They usually don’t swarm until the colonies have also made lots of drone cells, because the new queen needs to mate with a bunch of drones after a swarm before she will start laying.

So… keep your peels eyed and notify us if you see a swarm. We have our new colony sites, and boxes ready. We recently drove to Salt Lake City and picked up 5 bee packages (10,000-12,000 bees plus a queen), 2 for me, 2 for Wes, and 1 for KB. We have some swarm catchers out too.

We are available now, anytime to come get a swarm.

Thanks for your help. Stay tuned…

— Dudley Beck, Bluff’s “bee guy”, provides the Canyon Echo with monthly updates from the life of a Bluff beekeeper. Click here to read past editions.