Beekeeping in May – Swarming
The weather this year has again kept beekeepers on their toes. The unseasonably warm weather in February got the bees off to a wonderful start, building up very quickly resulting in strong colonies ready to take advantage of available forage with nectar and pollen in abundance. Now is the start of the swarming season and although the cooler weather over the past few weeks may have kept the bees confined to barracks, I’m sure that when the weather warms up in the coming week there will be swarms. Swarming is perfectly natural for honey bees. It is their way of increasing their population and chances of survival and the typical swarming season is from April to July.
Swarming can be triggered by a combination of factors. When an abundance of food is available the hive can become congested with the sheer amount of bees and lack of space to store honey. We try our best to provide enough room for the queen to lay and for the workers to store their food but sometimes even this will not quell their desire to swarm. Some colonies are genetically more prone to swarming than others. Weekly inspections are done to search for signs so that the beekeeper can take appropriate action. If a swarm is lost we can say goodbye to a honey crop and unless the bees are captured and re-homed there is a chance that they won’t survive. It is also important to collect swarms and get them into a hive before they decide to take up residence in the fabric of buildings where they can become a nuisance to the home or business owner.
When a swarm leaves a hive they find somewhere to cluster. Scout bees then search for a suitable new home. Once this has been achieved the swarm will take to the air and fly immediately to their new address. Honey bees do not live underground or in bird boxes. If you see bees in either of these locations they are going to be one of the species of bumble bee or solitary bee. We have over 260 species in the UK.
So if you see a swarm please ring Newbury Beekeepers’ Association. We have swarm coordinators located all over our district and can always find a beekeeper to come and rescue a swarm. Visit newburybeekeepers.org.uk/swarms for swarm coordinator contact details. Sadly our members are not insured to remove bees from within the fabric of a building so it is so much easier if we can get them whilst they are clustered.
|Swarm Collection Co-Ordinators|
|Central||Michael White||01635 44945|
|East||Paul Jarvis||01635 862495|
|North||Derek Fearnley||01635 42884|