Honey Bee swarms

We are used to our neighbours bees swarming in early summer (late May onwards) but they caught us out this time by being far earlier than usual. I noticed one swarm starting but it had moved on from the original roost so I had to go find it again. They had regrouped on a hedge on top of a steep bank. However on closer inspection (with binoc's!) there were two swarms about a metre apart which I hadn't come across before.









  • 1Runnybeak11Runnybeak1 Posts: 7,022

    Oohh stunning pictures Steephill. Now what ??? image

  • 1Runnybeak11Runnybeak1 Posts: 7,022

    Thought you'd get a buzz from that Verdun.  You were stung into action to reply image

    Hive never seen two together like that tho have you. 

  • WintersongWintersong Posts: 2,436

    I saw one close up once many years ago, amazing thing really 

    Precious photos thanks for sharing image

  • Green MagpieGreen Magpie Posts: 665

    My husband keeps bees and his have swarmed a couple of times already, today being one example. He says that swarms are not as dangerous as they look, as the bees gorge themselves on nectar before setting off, and they are usually very placid. They usually settle in some temporary spot not far from the hive, while they consider their options, sending out scout bees to report back on suitable new locations (honestly, I'm not making this up!) and it's sometimes possible for a beekeeper to capture the swarm before they set off again. Other times they settle high up in a tree and can't be reached.  This time he has set out a spare "bait" hive nearby, in the hope that they will relocate there. Sometimes this works.

  • It's not unknown for two swarms to merge either. Beekeepers occasionally do it by separating two swarms they have captured in hive boxes between a sheets of damp paper. Once they have grown accustomed to the smell of each others swarms the paper is removed.


    Strange wee world.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 10,270

    My dad used to keep bees and usually the bees swarmed when he was at work so my mum had to go and collect them. She wasn't best pleased. They usually got knocked off the branch into a cardboard box and taken home again (no car). I never saw them sting anyone but there are placid strains and bad tempered ones so maybe my dad just had a bad tempered wife and placid bees.

    I have a beehive and I live in hope that "someday my swarm will come" but until then it's just a pretty box.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • 1Runnybeak11Runnybeak1 Posts: 7,022

    Green Magpie & Jimmy.   Very interesting reading, I didn't know any of that. image  Thank you. 

  • It's a good way of avoiding disease, as two merged swarms are more likely to be genetically a bit more resilient as they will be less related than a swarm that breeds with itself.

  • Pottie PamPottie Pam Posts: 887

    'A swarm in May is worth a load of hay'.

    I didn't think bees were dangerous when they swarmed. Have you seen photos of that chap with bees all over his face looking like a beard?

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 506

    Both swarms were safely collected by my beekeeping neighbour who will try to combine them. It is fascinating to watch a swarm in action although the early stages with the sky full of bees can be very intimidating. The first time it happened we had some burly roofers working on the roof who rapidly descended and sheepishly asked if they could retreat indoors during the swarm.

    My OH reacts badly and a sting would mean a rapid trip to hospital so we do have to be careful. My beekeeping neighbour is also very sensitive and has had to have desensitizing treatment to try to lessen the risk of anaphylactic shock. Exciting times with adrenalin injection pens at the ready during swarm season. On the bright side it means our fruit trees are always well pollinated and the honey is lovely.image


  • Green MagpieGreen Magpie Posts: 665

    Glad to hear you're so positive about the bees, Steephilll.

    I am happy to report that our "bait" hive was successful. The swarm decided to move into it,  so now we have a new colony.

  • hollie hockhollie hock Posts: 3,293

    Great pictures and reading. So the bees come out of the hive in a swarm and then have a look around for another one?

  • Green MagpieGreen Magpie Posts: 665

    Yes, hollie, it's how the colonies multiply. The queen leaves, taking about half the bees with her as a swarm, and the remaining bees create and rear a new queen.

  • BoaterBoater Posts: 241

    The bees make a new queen, or queens by feeding some cells differently, but a colony can only have one queen so the first new queen to emerge tries to kill all the others and take over the hive. Usually the old queen manages to escape with around half of the workers.

    Was the double swarm 2 hives swarming at the same time or did 2 queens manage to escape from one hive each with their own retinue?

    I've only ever seen a large scouting party, never the swarm - brilliant having 2 at the same time!

    Comisserations to those allergic to bee stings who can't share our appreciation!

  • hollie hockhollie hock Posts: 3,293

    Thanks Green Magpie and Boater, fascinatingimage

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