Swarms of Bees

This picture my husband sent me while I was out of state. Bees so close to the inner cover (I have also heard people call this a swarm cover) indicate the colony needs more space. I am learning from other beekeepers how to be more aware of what is being said through bee-havior.

The swarm from Hive One that was too high in the tree to recapture.

I learned several things after leaving the homestead for over a week:

  1. I need to check my bees more often.

  2. I need to keep my blog up to date.

  3. Beekeeping requires more of a science-base knowledge. (So although I like them for social purposes, I need to get more technical when it comes to their care).

  4. I need my partner’s assistance with the bees. The hives are heavy with honey. It’s a good problem to have, and luckily my solution lives close by.

  5. In the future I need to split hives in order to control swarming.

Hive one already had a honey super on it. Hive two had two deep supers on it. When I returned the hive that was thriving, hive one, needed to have the honey super removed because it lost half of the bees in the colony due to a swarm; a swarm that my neighbor made witness to and knocked on my door for me to come see what was happening. The bees from hive one swarmed into the tree directly above the flagpole. It was too high for me to remove and although I had left an empty swarm hive away from the bees prior to my travels they decided the tree was a better home.

Bees swarm for a multitude of reasons. However, in my case I believe they were too many in the hive and they needed space. This is a bummer to me and can be detrimental to honey collection if bees swarm in late summer/early fall because they have to recolonize and that takes time and energy away from production. Those remaining in the hive, that did not swarm with the bees in the tree, are without a fertilized queen. That means no more worker bees until she mates. I have been told that the queen will not mate with a drone in her own hive…and drones are ugly! So I don’t blame her. Yet, this takes time that the queen is away from her hive to find a mate. Luckily I have another hive close by.

I’ll be checking the hive again on Sunday with my dad who wants hives on his property. I’ll be on the look-out for production of queen cells and whether I need to make splits in the future to prevent swarming. Although my neighbor was very interested in the swarm, and swarming is simply how bees reproduce, it is my job as a beekeeper -especially in a suburban area- to manage those swarms to the best of my ability. And there are several people who have mentioned wanting more bees. Therefore future swarms or busy hives already have homes waiting for them because two is enough for our backyard.


A Foster Beekeeper


Hiya! My name's Emily. I live in upstate New York as a hobby beekeeper in the suburbs. I love Spring, smiling, apples with peanut butter and creating beautiful things.