Memphis Backyard Farmer


My Carport Is Swarming With Bees!
April 17, 2011, 8:16 am
Filed under: Bee Keeping

 I’ve been a bit down and out since I lost two hives since last fall (see my last update). When you only have five bee hives, two is a big loss. Fortunately, I was able to order a queen to do a split from one of my remaining healthy hives. However, after a trip out to the bees about a week and a half ago, I found that one of my hives was preparing to swarm. They had built several queen cells on a couple of combs, and had several drone cells built out as well. Since I had a few extra boxes with me in the car, I decided that now was the time for the split. I grabbed the two frames with queen cells (along with fresh brood and lots of bees),shoved them in a box, and took them home. They’re now in my kids’ tree house.

Four hives now, with a queen on the way. I’m happy.

But then something even more remarkable happened. When it comes to swarms, I typically wait for someone to call me. Inevitably it happens, someone gets a swarm in a tree, wall, or even car, and they call me to come rescue them (that’s a vague pronoun – you can guess who needs saving). But I’ve heard that if you take an old hive containing one or two frames with comb out in the woods (or even close to someone else’s bee yard), then when a hive nearby swarms, they’ll smell your hive and make it their new home. But really, that’s too easy, right?

Wrong.

I keep a stack of old equipment on my carport; hive bodies, old frames, feeders, etc. When the weather gets warm, I always have bees poking around, licking up the old comb, stealing wax to take home as building material. Spring is no exception. But when I got a frantic call from my wife last week about the bees in the carport, I knew this was even more unusual. When I called her back, she told me that a whirlwind of bees had appeared from the sky outside our upstairs window. The kids ran outside just in time to see them light on my stack of equipment.

“What do we do?” she asked, somewhat exasperated.

“Let them in!”

So – my wife, my 11 year old and my 13 year old suited up, went outside, and just “tipped” the lid that sat atop the boxes outside the back door. Sure enough, the bees dropped right in. I inspected them yesterday morning, and they are an incredible hive of bees with – truly – the biggest queen I have ever seen. I haven’t had time to cart them off to one of the fields, but they’ve been gentle with the neighborhood kids coming in and out of the carport, so right now we’re all peacefully coexisting.

So if you’re looking for free bees, this is the best darn way of hiving a swarm that I’ve ever tried. And now I’m up to five hives, and still have a queen on the way. Sweet!

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