A Swarm's Whereabouts

Orange Hive swarmed, for the second time, on Labor Day weekend. In the morning, we saw the swarm high up in a tree near the hive, and by late afternoon it was gone to parts unknown.

Last weekend, Wren and I were taking a walk down the road and lo and behold, there were the bees in a hollow tree. Interestingly, the entrance was an eye level, which kind of surprised me. I would have expected them to choose a more elevated location, but what do I know?I'm not sure why so many of the bees were clustered outside the entrance, but there they were. The entrance hole is the little dark spot in the midst of the bees. Foragers could be seen going in carrying pollen, so I guess at least some comb has already been built.Unfortunately, this late-swarming group has a thin chance of surviving the winter—just not enough time to build enough comb, store enough food, and do the reproductive work needed to ensure a large enough cluster of bees to keep the tribe warm during the long, cold winter. On the other hand, the autumn weather has been kind thus far, with warm days continuing and no hard frost due for at least another week.

I've learned a lot this summer about being sure to have enough volume in the hive to accommodate the rather astonishing population of bees that can build up in a healthy colony in a relatively short time. Three swarms and a hell of a lot of bearding bees have taught me the hard way. I really like the design of the top bar hives I have been using, but suspect lack of space may have been a problem for me and the bees. A friend is building me even bigger top bar hives for use next spring and I am hopeful that this will alter some of the crowding dynamics I witnessed this year. Only time will tell.

For now, I hope you'll join me in wishing the best to the bees who set up housekeeping in the hollow tree down the road. I'll provide updates if and when there's something new to report.

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