One of my favorite bee mentors, TJ Carr, an elderly gentleman perennially clad in blue denim overalls, once told me that Palm Sunday was the indicator for the beginning of bee swarm season here in the southwest. But with the early onset of a warm, dry Spring, it’s looking like swarm season has already started. What does this mean?
It means that soon you may find pulsing or resting balls of honeybees dangling in one of your flowering bushes or clinging high in your backyard trees. Swarming is the way that hives naturally reproduce. When a hive is strong enough and has a good population of bees, they will produce a new Queen. With a new queen, the old one will need to leave the hive and take half of the bees with her so there will not be queen wars or overpopulation.
If you happen to see a swarm of bees, DO NOT PANIC! A swarm of bees is very docile, as they have no hive, no eggs and no honey to protect. DO NOT spray them with pesticides! PLEASE DO call your local beekeeper’s association or contact me at 505-514-4982 and a beekeeper will happily come to collect the bees. Once collected, the beekeeper will put them into a hive and help them establish a new colony.
Beekeepers are eager to cultivate swarms since this means that a hive is healthy and strong enough to create a new hive. I was fortunate enough to catch multiple swarms last year which means my hive genetics are slightly more feral and intense this year. My hives have incredibly fertile queens and the most productive honey makers I have ever had the good fortune of knowing. It seems out of state bees are engineered to be docile, bred for beginning beekeepers.
I’d rather have a slightly hot hive. It has taught me to be more keenly observant, keeping me on my toes. I cannot become lazy. I must always think in terms of best beekeeping practices. I have learned to work “with” my high strung girls rather than forcing my way with them. I am facing multiple splits this year, and the wonderful blessing of increasing my home hives from 4 to at least 6. I will then need to put them around the city so I don’t saturate my own neighborhood with too many honeybees.
This year I’m hoping for some Very. Good. Honey.
As often happens, my mind turns to how the wisdom of the hive can help me manage my daily life in turbulent and uncertain political times. Somedays it feels like I am in the midst of a swarm of bees—a crazy whirlwind of chaos. A few words come to mind….
- Careful observation.
- Breathe often.
- Slow movement (to sustain energy, reduce anxiety, and allow for optimum success)
- Proactivity (not reactivity)
- Remain in a calm, positive mindset.
For times such as this, think like a bee. Bzzzz.