A few weeks ago, I was featured on the local, and Philadelphia news (on the same day!). I actually got to tell the truth about honeybees, and didn’t regurgitate the same 3 talking points every other beekeeper says when a camera is recording them.
Earth day brought 48°F for the high temperature, and my first swarm call of the year that I could comfortably drive to. The swarm issued from a tree that has had a honeybee colony in it for a few years. Despite the cold, the bees were relatively well-behaved, and went right into the hive. I noticed several other trees that looked hollow on my way off the property. I expect to return in a few days for secondary swarms.
In a recent livestream on my YouTube channel I discussed why I don’t call the death of a colony a “loss” in my operation. Skip to the 3:45 mark to get to the good part. I’d love to hear your feedback as always.
I’ve never seen this behavior described, much less filmed. I’ve seen reports of bees bringing in orange “pollen”, but I wonder how much of it is actually lawn rust fungus. There isn’t anything blooming that I know of with orange pollen in my region (Southeast Pennsylvania, USA) this time of year. What do they do with it? I don’t know. Honeybees will collect many different powdery substances (coffee grounds, bird feeder dust, sawdust, etc.) this time of year when no pollen is available.
Today I made an interesting discovery in my neighbor’s yard. As I was walking around the bee yard, I heard loud buzzing in the distance. I thought it could be a very late swarm or absconsion. The video below is what I found.
For the past few seasons, I’ve been planting poppies for my bees, saving the seeds and planting again. I started with ordinary “bread” poppies from the grocery store baking aisle. They start a bit slow, but then take off quickly. Poppies provide enormous amounts of pollen early in the morning. I’ve seen as many as seven bees on a single flower with pollen sacs loaded almost instantly. I don’t believe poppy flowers provide much nectar, if any. It’s interesting to see the slight changes in the colors of the flowers as pollen from other poppy growers finds its way into my little gene pool. Below, I’m linking a short video of what I do here at home to grow poppies for my bees.
Today, I employed three different techniques to collect swarms on a miserably windy, chilly, and rainy day. The first was the “Set it, and forget it”, because it was close to home. I just sat the nucleus box right up against the swarm cluster and left the bees to slowly crawl in. I’ll pick them up tomorrow night.
With the second swarm (further from home), I used a bucket, and bumped the majority of the bees into it. Then I slipped a filter bag over the bucket and snapped the ring lid on. Once all the stragglers flew into the top, I cinched the slack up over the top of the bucket and closed it with a rubber band. This is much easier on the bees, as there are no frames swinging around and shifting on the bumpy ride home. Once I got home, I dumped the bees into a hive and opened the filter bag to release the stragglers.
The third swarm was just out of reach, in a tree, so I used the “Bucket on a Pole” method. A very straight forward and popular way to get a swarm down, but the wind made it interesting.