late, late season swarm
Greetings from sunny Tennessee,
So the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and twice in the last few weeks I have found a small swarm of bees hanging from a cedar limb near my bee hives. It happened again yesterday when I spotted a small swarm clustered on a cedar branch about 2:00 PM. At 2:30, they flew to the side of one of my hives and clustered there for 20 minutes. At 2:50, they filled the air above the bee yard flying in a big swirling cloud then disappeared... for about five minutes. At 3:00 they were all back clustered on the side of the hive. At 3:20 they took to the air again, this time clustering on a small branch in a purple-leafed plum tree about 30 feet from the hive and RIGHT OVER MY HEAD. They were three feet above my head when they finally formed their little cup-sized ball, and that's where they were when I left at 6:00 PM.
Here in middle Tennessee we are experiencing a strong nectar flow, almost like spring or early summer. All of my hives are foraging morning, noon and evening every day packing away pollen and nectar. This after a hot, dry July and August dearth. On 9/18, all of my hives contained frames of brood at all stages of development, and although I would not say the queens are laying full bore, they are still making lots of bees and the bees are storing lots of nectar and pollen. Also, all the hives have room to expand with either frames of foundation or empty frames with starter strips. I don't think they feel crowded, but I guess that is possible. On the other hand, the only reason a colony would swarm this time of year here in middle Tennessee is if it were crowded, correct?
1) So how likely is it that the small swarm I saw yesterday came from somewhere else to my bee yard?
2) And if they were mine, is it a given that my fertile queen went with that little swarm?
3) Considering the spring-like flow we are experiencing here this fall, should I have treated the hives like I would in the spring keeping the brood nest open as if this flow were going to last?
I hope to inspect the hives this weekend.
Last edited by buhbee; 10-01-2011 at 06:23 AM.
Reason: cull a bunch of nonsense
Re: late, late season swarm
I don't know if I'd consider what you describe as "late, late, season swarms". Maybe just late season swarms. I've seen several swarms around here in January -- fortunately with some generous feeding some of those even make it.
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