May 28, 2008

Awakened by the morning sun

Snow-in-Summer covers the ground beneath the Aspens.
Our Top Bar Hive is hidden in a stand of Aspen trees, but the sun manages to sneak through, so the bees – whenever we get them – will be out and about early. The dappled shade throughout the rest of the day will save them from the Summer sun, which is especially strong here in Colorado.

We're on two swarm lists, but pretty far down on both. Swarming happens when a hive gets crowded and about half the bees leave to find a new home. The existing queen goes with them. Several days beforehand, the worker bees select a few of the newest eggs and feed them royal jelly, thus creating a replacement queen so the colony can continue to thrive. Usually the first new queen to hatch will be the next queen of the original hive.

The swarm usually settles in a tree, usually within 150 yards of the original hive, to make sure everyone's together. If they're on a branch that can be cut, catching the swarm is easy. Just snip the branch so the whole kit-and-kaboodle falls into a box. But that's not usually how it works,
the swarm by the bookstore being a perfect example.

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