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Don't "bee" alarmed by the swarm

Honeybee swarm in Milburn Park Community Garden safely relocated

Post Date:05/18/2017 3:00 p.m.

bee hive in a garden plot It’s the time of year that honeybees swarm and Cedar Park Parks and Recreation Specialist Irma Wall could not be more excited.  As volunteer beekeepers, she and her teenage daughter Emma help care for the beehive installations in the Community Gardens at Elizabeth Milburn and Veterans Memorial Park.  The hives were installed last summer for the bees to help pollinate the plants in the gardens.  Last Friday afternoon, Irma was called by a gardener to come and remove a large swarm of bees.  Wall put on her beekeeping gear and rolled out.  

“I was able to save a beautiful honeybee swarm that had landed on a branch of a huge sunflower,” Wall said.  “The honeybees were plentiful and weighty enough to break the branch and leave it dangling.”

What Wall did next was play a game of wits with the bees. 

“I was able to grab honeybees by the handfuls and place them into a nuc hive,” Wall said.  A nuc is a small, five-frame hive.  Wall was hoping that the swarm would recognize that their queen was with them and would begin building a new hive out of the new nuc .

“Confident I had placed the queen into the nuc, I closed it up and played the waiting game,” Wall explained. 

 Later that night, Wall returned and observed that all of the honeybees had transitioned into the nuc.  She sealed it up and relocated the new wild hive to another location, where she reports that it is thriving and doing well. 

About bee swarming
Swarming is the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. Swarming usually within a two- or three-week period during the spring, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the bees’ producing season.

A swarm of bees sometimes frightens people, though the bees are usually not aggressive at this stage of their life cycle. This is mostly due to the swarming bees' lack of brood (developing bees) to defend, and their interest in finding a new nesting location for their queen. This does not mean that bees from a swarm will not attack if they perceive a threat; however, most bees only attack in response to intrusions against their colony. Additionally, bees seldom swarm except when the position of the sun is direct and impressive. Swarm clusters, hanging off of a tree branch, will move on and find a suitable nesting location in a day or two.  Encountering a bee swarm for the first time can be alarming.  Bees tend to swarm near their hives or honeycombs, so if a swarm is visible then a nest is nearby.  Swarms are usually not aggressive unless provoked, so it is important to keep a good distance from them.