Every spring at the bee club meetings the question asked by new beekeepers is ‘When is the swarm season?’. One answer given regularly by some of the old timers is this.
Swarm season begins when you see the first blossom on the apple trees, and is over when you eat the first raspberry.
It sounds like a reasonable answer, so we took note of a post from the Ocean Grove raspberry farm the day before yesterday, it mentioned eating the first ripe raspberry. The first thought is, yay, swarm season is over. Well, like always, the bees dont read that book, and sure enough, the very next day at 4:30pm the phone rings. There is a swarm of honeybees in town in a tree hanging over a well traveled sidewalk. So drop everything and off we go to collect a swarm of bees that has landed in a very inconvenient spot for one local business.
The bees were polite enough in this case to cluster on a branch only 8 feet off the ground, easily reached with the hose on the bee vac. I vacuumed them into the swarm collection box and brought them home. When they first went into the new box to be the new home, it didn’t look like they wanted to stay, and a fairly large cluster was starting to form on the outside of the box, so I added a frame of open brood from another hive. After about 15 minutes they had moved inside. Later in the evening, I wanted to confirm the swarm had a queen so opened it up again and started looking over the frames hunting for a queen, expecting it to be a difficult one to find because she would be slimmed down for flight before the swarm. She would have been difficult to spot, except thw big blue dot on her thorax made it trivially simple to confirm there is a queen in there with the rest of the swarm.