When all of my bee colonies died over the winter, I decided it was time to take a break from bee keeping for a year. Once, I cared for 15 colonies. As some of them died, I did not replace them. It had become too expensive.
Last summer, I was down to four colonies, three at home and one at some friends’ organic vegetable farm.
Living without bees this summer felt strange. The yard was too quiet, the air above it too empty.
The other day, when I pulled into the driveway, the air was alive with honey bees. A swarm had selected the empty hive near the wood pile as their new home.
What a gift!
Bees leave their homes in a swarm when a colony starts to create a new queen. The existing queen leaves with half of her daughters to establish a new home, leaving her others daughters an opportunity to create a more robust successor to ensure the vitality of the colony.
“Flying away from the safety and security of the hive towaed the unknown, the swarm leaves behind all the material possessions it can’t carry with it,” writes Vermont beekeeper Ross Conrad in Natural Beekeeping, Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture. “The selflessness and generosity exhibited by the honey bees’ act of swarming provides a level of inspiration unmatched in the world of insects.”
The newly arrived swarm arrived in time for the blossoming of our abundant Chinese onions (pictured), one of their favorite nectars, and some remaining sweet pepperbush. It’s going to be a banner year for goldenrod, and then the ever expanding Japanese knotweed will follow. We will start feeding the new bees in October.
What a gift it is to have the bees back.
- HONEY BEE COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER- Common Agricultural Chemicals Linked to BEE DECLINE by New Research (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- Moving Out: Bee Colony Heads To New Home (wnep.com)