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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. ‪(404) 482-1848‬

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Thursday, March 03, 2022

Caught my first swarm of the season today - March 2!

 I got the call at about 3 PM from my local club swarm list. Dave, who manages the list, knew I didn't want to climb ladders this year and said this one was one inch from the ground. And it was only 15 minutes away near downtown Decatur.

The bees belonged to beekeepers, but not beekeepers who are members of my local club. They got bees last year, had not treated them with anything, and the bees lived through the winter. Today they swarmed and it was a HUGE swarm. As swarms go, this was the size of about four cats and when I carried it away, my estimation was that it was about seven pounds of bees. 

Here's the photo the homeowner sent:

This enormous swarm was hanging from a hydrangea bush and was also pooled on the ground. It was quite a challenge to collect. Lisa, the homeowner, said the bees began gathering at the base of the hydrangea. My assumption then was that the queen was down at the bottom of this swarm. 

The beehive from which the swarm issued was housed in a deep and a medium box - imagine how crowded these bees were since this only represents one half of the hive. I encouraged Lisa to get her husband (the actual beekeeper) to add a box when he got home to give the remaining bees space to grow.

Because of the swarm location I was unable to do a good video of the process. I could barely get to the bees and couldn't place the camera in a way that would work. I'll show you a short bit of what I tried to record. The whole process took an hour because even though I shook a ton of bees into the box, the queen didn't get there until I managed to brush her (I assume - I didn't see her) into a paint container that I had. Then the bees put their bottoms up into the air and began to send out pheromone signals to attract the bees not in the collection box.

Gradually most of the bees were either in the box or on the sheet. A few remained on the tree, but I had hope that they would return to their old hive about twenty feet away by morning. 

I took the bees to my empty top bar hive - a great place to put a swarm that large. I am sorry I didn't take any photos of the bees when we dumped them in - they absolutely covered the entire interior of the top bar hive because there were so many of them. There was a basketball size cluster of bees clinging to the ventilated top on the collection box. Even when I dumped those into the hive, there were still at least two cats worth of bees inside the collection box to add.

Here are a few stragglers entering the front door to their new home. The bees on the sheet below are still probably gathered around the pheromone of the queen, left by her after I swept her into the paint container and put her in the collection box.

P.S. My friend David L. and I get our hair cut at the same salon. His stylist is Jon, and David told me that Jon keeps bees. Rachel, another stylist there, cuts my hair. Ever since I learned about his beekeeping,  I have always had a short bee conversation with Jon about how his bees are doing every time I visit Rachel for a haircut. 

The morning after I caught this swarm, I got a text from Jon that said, "Good morning, Linda. This is Jon from C___ Hair Studio. I heard you had quite the adventure yesterday with my wife and son! Small world. Thank you so much....." 

Amazing that in this giant metropolis of the Atlanta area that I would know the person from whom I got the swarm (quite by the coincidence of being on the swarm list for MABA.)

Does your local bee club or extension agent keep a swarm list? It's a great way to get a swarm - put your name on it and you will be called when a swarm is available and it's your turn. I get at least one call a year from MABA and as a retired person who is very available to leave at the drop of a hat, I sometimes get more than one/year.

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