All in a day’s work

Today I went to remove a hive from Mechelle’s property in Long Beach. They were ensconced in an electrical box in her backyard.

She said bees had been living in this box off and on for at least a year and had cast off multiple swarms. As it happened, there was also a small swarm in her backyard today on a stalk of bamboo. It was not clear whether the swarm was from the hive or not, but it seemed safe to assume that it was.

Inside the electrical box there was lots of well formed comb, but the thing which caught my eye was the large number of queen cells. That was evidence that this hive likes to raise new queens and send out swarms.

There was plenty of brood but what seemed strange was that all the brood seemed to be at the same stage. Usually a hive will have young from the egg stage through the newly-emerging-as-adult stage, but this hive seemed to only have the newly-emerging-as-adult brood.

My guess is that it’s because the old queen swarmed and the new queen didn’t start laying yet, so there is a break in the brood cycle. The only problem is, if for some reason the new queen died during the cut-out rescue, that makes the hive’s ability to survive almost zero.

Time will tell.

Death and Life

There has been a lot of bee activity over the last two days. My next door neighbors got a swarm in their chimney yesterday. They immediately lit a fire in their fireplace and then called an exterminator. Today those bees are all dead.

Since it is high swarm season, I know there will be many more swarms over the next few weeks so I put out a few “swarm traps” today. A swarm trap is any kind of box, wood or cardboard or other material with, at minimum, some wax inside, and perhaps also some queen pheromone, lemongrass (whose smell approximates queen pheromone), or honey.

Within a few hours one of the traps had a lot of bee activity. From the outside it looks like a swarm moved in, but it’s also possible that, given its proximity to the chimney that got burned and poisoned yesterday and today, that these are survivor bees from that colony.

I’ll probably let it sit a few days and then see what’s going on.

But either way, it was a relieving contrast to the death and destruction of my neighbors.

Many people are surprised to hear that, according to official reports, almost all wild honeybees are wiped out in the United States. I tell them it’s mainly because of habitat loss, and this was a fine example. Here was one survivor colony of bees that just got wiped out because they chose the wrong spot to rest. How many times a year does that happen? How many colonies are destroyed because people are scared of them, unjustly so?

The next day I checked the trap and a swarm didn’t move in. The bees must have been scouts, so I anticipate a swarm will move in within a week or two iyH.