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It's almost the swarm season for honey bees here in western Pa. The earliest swarm I've ever caught was April 30th ( from one of my hives), the latest was Sept. 22. I've always found that the 2nd week of May is when I find the most swarms. ( I once came home from work to find 7 swarms hanging in various spruce trees in the backyard).

With the scarcity of feral honey bees today, a lot of younger folks have never seen bees swarm. The whole process is fascinating to watch....I always loved hiving a fresh swarm. There's something there for several of your senses....You have the sound of the swarm emerging ( the buzzing can be heard 100 yards away, the sight of 20,000 bees swirling about overhead, and the smell of the bee's pheromones when they enter there new home.

If you know a local beekeeper, let them know if you locate a swarm. In most cases, they'll either hive them or find someone else who will. It's fun to suit up non beekeeper folks when catching a swarm....their fear soon turns to fascination, and I've had a couple of people actually get into beekeeping after assisting with a swarm.

If I can get any pics this Spring I'll post them.
 

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So speaking of bees; what's going on with them relative to population decline? There has been a marked decrease in their population due to, I believe, a parasite of some nature. I so seldom see them in my yard that when I do, it's an event.

I hope that whatever is causing their decline is eliminated and that they return.
 

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So speaking of bees; what's going on with them relative to population decline? There has been a marked decrease in their population due to, I believe, a parasite of some nature. I so seldom see them in my yard that when I do, it's an event.

I hope that whatever is causing their decline is eliminated and that they return.
Varroa mites, that arrived here from Asia in the 80s, has decimated honey bees here. Although they don’t kill the bees outright, they weaken the bees...then they suscumb to one of 16 other diseases. Untreated hives seldom survive more than two seasons. Work is being done to breed mite resistant bees ( bees that groom, remove and destroy mites ), but progress has been slow.

I just received the Pa winter loss survey in my email yesterday. I’m guessing that losses here are going to surpass 75% this year.
 

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It's almost the swarm season for honey bees here in western Pa.
I've been in the woods all my life and have never seen honey bees swarm. Maybe I'm too far in the woods?
It's a topic I never put any thought to until now. If a guy wanted to go looking, are there any tips to locating swarming bees?
 

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I've been in the woods all my life and have never seen honey bees swarm. Maybe I'm too far in the woods?
It's a topic I never put any thought to until now. If a guy wanted to go looking, are there any tips to locating swarming bees?
. If you know of an overwintered hive or bee tree, that’s a grea starting point. When a swarm emerges from its hive, they swirl around in the air near the hive until the queen lands , usually on a branch. Since the queen is heavy and a poor flyer, most swarms will cluster up within 100 feet or so of their former home. They’ll remain there until scouts find their new home. I’ve seen them stay on a branch for as little as an hour and as long as 5 days. Sometimes they’ll swarm, land on a branch, then go back into their hive, only to do it all again later in the day.

Each Spring, I put out a few boxes with a couple of frames of comb with a little lemon grasss oil ( mimics smell of honey bee pheromone) in order to try to catch a wild swarm. I’ve got a few that way. I usually get a few calls every May- June from folks who have swarms at their homes, and I’ll get them, provided they’re not 40 feet up an oak tree.
 

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Actually, swarming bees show no aggression. They have no hive anymore, so there’s nothing to defend. Also when bees swarm, they gorge themselves with honey ( if a bee weighed 100 lb, when he flys out with a swarm he’ll weigh 180 lb). They will need this honey to turn into beeswax when they arrive at their new home. The extra honey they’re packing makes it physically difficult to bend their abdomen to sting you. If a swarm remain on a branch for a couple of days, the honey they stored in their gut is consumed. They become what beekeepers call a “hot swarm”. All bets are off about their disposition. That’s why I always ask the property owner how long the swarm has been hanging there.

When I was a kid 50 years ago, I’d go with my uncle to catch swarms. He wore no veil, no shirt. He’d pull his belt tight and tuck his pant legs into his socks. He believed he’d only be stung if a bee pinched himself under his clothing. I’ve caught swarms with little protective gear, but all but a couple of time I’ve always had at least a hat and veil on.

Anybody ever drive through a swarm of flying honeybees? I’ve had it happen 3 times. Once on I 80, twice on Rt 422. You’ll see a black ball in front of you, then have 100s hit your windshield at once.
 

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Actually, swarming bees show no aggression. They have no hive anymore, so there’s nothing to defend. Also when bees swarm, they gorge themselves with honey ( if a bee weighed 100 lb, when he flys out with a swarm he’ll weigh 180 lb). They will need this honey to turn into beeswax when they arrive at their new home. The extra honey they’re packing makes it physically difficult to bend their abdomen to sting you. If a swarm remain on a branch for a couple of days, the honey they stored in their gut is consumed. They become what beekeepers call a “hot swarm”. All bets are off about their disposition. That’s why I always ask the property owner how long the swarm has been hanging there.

When I was a kid 50 years ago, I’d go with my uncle to catch swarms. He wore no veil, no shirt. He’d pull his belt tight and tuck his pant legs into his socks. He believed he’d only be stung if a bee pinched himself under his clothing. I’ve caught swarms with little protective gear, but all but a couple of time I’ve always had at least a hat and veil on.

Anybody ever drive through a swarm of flying honeybees? I’ve had it happen 3 times. Once on I 80, twice on Rt 422. You’ll see a black ball in front of you, then have 100s hit your windshield at once.
When I first got into beekeeping my son and I were out looking for a certain bee tree to see if it was still there. We had been out this road only about a half hour before and no bees, but on the way back they were flying everywhere. We got out to see the spectacle. I videoed some of it and saw the tree they were coming out of. The first video below is the swarm in flight. I went home and got my suit and etc. By the time I got back there they had clustered on the ground as seen in the second video. This was the first swarm I ever collected.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b190x3t1tsvm6v3/The Eye Of The Swarm 4-30-12.MOV?dl=0


https://www.dropbox.com/s/t008nbtsbcdornh/Swarm On Ground 4-30-12.MOV?dl=0
 

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Had a swarm in the hedge between us and the neighbors 40yrs ago in the development I grew up in. Us kids were kept far away by Mom... LOL. Pop called a Bee Keeper don't know if it was somebody he worked with or a friend of a friend type deal. At the time I had a great uncle down near Gettysburg and an uncle in S. Jersey that both kept bees ....A might far for them though.

At present have a nephew that has been involved with bee keeping since his high school days..... sort of morphed into a nice little side business selling/extracting honey(his + other small keepers) and he does "presentations" as well. I know he's lost some hives in the past to the mites.
 

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When I first got into beekeeping my son and I were out looking for a certain bee tree to see if it was still there. We had been out this road only about a half hour before and no bees, but on the way back they were flying everywhere. We got out to see the spectacle. I videoed some of it and saw the tree they were coming out of. The first video below is the swarm in flight. I went home and got my suit and etc. By the time I got back there they had clustered on the ground as seen in the second video. This was the first swarm I ever collected.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b190x3t1tsvm6v3/The Eye Of The Swarm 4-30-12.MOV?dl=0


https://www.dropbox.com/s/t008nbtsbcdornh/Swarm On Ground 4-30-12.MOV?dl=0
Zeke..I’ve probably caught 100+ swarms, but I’ve only ever seen a handful of swarms land on the ground like that. Queen must have been a poor flyer. I’ve seen where swarms emitted from a hive and didn’t go anywhere, because the beekeeper had clipped the queen’s wings. When they’re on the ground, I get a hive and set in front of them. They’ll march right in, as they are attracted to the smell of comb+ darkness. Sometimes I’ll drum the back of the hive body with a screw driver. Something my grandfather did....don’t know if it really works or not.
 

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Went through my hives today and they had some capped drone brood so I’d say we’re 1-2 weeks from swarm season in my area. My loss for the winter was 40%
 

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FC, I lost half. I have 9 packages coming Thursday. A little later than I liked, but many southern package producers are way behind schedule due to cold Spring. They were to be here on April 19th.
 

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My grandfather kept bee's he had over a hundred colonies I guess that what you'd call them, at one time, and my dad had a few hives he kept. They'd just wear a veil and get stung occasionally, when I was a teenager they'd send me up the tree to cut the limb to get a swarm. I wasn't as brave as they were,lol I find this story funny,,, one summer day a guy shows up at our house, identifies himself as the bee inspector, shows his ID and says he's here to inspect them. I could see he had bumps on his neck and face and arms that looked like stings but I said okay, I took him out showed him where they were and beat it over to my grandparents. I didn't know he'd already been there and my grandfather started laughing, I said what's so funny. He said I told the stupid sob that he better put his suit on that one hive is wicked, and the guy informed him he handled bees all the time and he'd be alright. Well he popped the cover off and started poking around my grandfather said they came up out of the hive and stung the heck out him.. I wonder if that guy learned anything that day..
 
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