Friends and neighbors watch for swarming bees. A quick phone call to Desiree and she flies into action, making plans to go to the rescue, a mission that has to happen within a time frame of 1 to 24 hours. After that, the workers who are out scouting for a new home will have shown the others in the swarm the way, and they'll be gone.
"A swarm is a big ball of bees, piled on top of each other," Desiree says. "When it's in a tree, the bees are all huddled together. We catch them and put them in our hive box, our super. If you can get the queen in, the rest will follow."
Usually, when there's a swarm of bees splitting away, and not an entire colony, the honeybees take a queen cell with them, an egg the queen has laid. The diet that is given to this bee larva determines what the bee will grow into, so when the workers are grooming a bee to become the new queen bee, she gets a unique queenly diet, "royal jelly"! Pretty cool!
Desiree says, "They only sting you when they feel threatened. When one stings, the pheromone (smell) will attract the others and they'll come after you. So, if you get stung once, it's best to leave."
The next day or later the same day, after the bees are settled in the super, Desiree takes them home to her beekeeping operation, Klover Hill Apiary, where she plans to build her bee numbers and continue trying new bee products, expanding from honey and lip balm into candles and soaps.
I asked Desiree where a person is most likely to find swarming bees. She says they can be in homes, barns, trees and mostly, around here, they seem to like lilac bushes. Since we have three large old lilac bushes at the farm, I invited her to investigate for swarming bees. None. Then we went to the barn, another place they might gather. Again, none, but that was a cool, rainy day.
Like anything worth doing, if it were easy, wouldn't everyone be doing it? From talking to Desiree and seeing her photos, I know she loves the adventure of finding and retrieving swarming bees and she is dedicated to helping the planet. She will do this for many years to come. Thank goodness! Maybe she can help to increase the declining numbers of honeybees!
The photos in this post are courtesy of Desiree Blaha-Poyner. To see more of her photos, you can Facebook "friend" her.