Swarm for Lunch


My hives are packed, so I wasn’t surprised yesterday when a loud buzz diverted our attention from an outdoor lunch. Honey bees by the thousands circled overhead. While bees were coming and going as always from the hives in the backyard, the real action was in my neighbor’s yard–first in the back, then in the front. Finally, the swarm moved across the street to an evergreen. In about five minutes the circling subsided and the bees began the ritual of surrounding their queen.

Below is a video of the swarm settling in an evergreen.

This is the sixth time in the last four years that I’ve witnessed a swarm. Typically, the swarm is triggered by a second queen in the hive who leaves with 15,000 bees or so to set up shop nearby. As was done in the past, I contacted a local beekeeper who at sunset removed the bees safely from the tree–they’re going about 12 miles away to a “farm” on the Big Sur coast.

Our objective is to keep a healthy hive and to repopulate the coast here with productive honey bees. We harvest the honey only when necessary and use it ourselves (it’s a great cooking additive with food prepared in a slow cooker); or we give it away, no selling.

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