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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.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Secondary Swarm Saturday, March 11, 2023

I'm sure it's not a national holiday, but it was a day of celebration for me that both started and ended with secondary swarms. 

I was still in my pjs when I got a call from a beekeeper who belongs to my local club, Metro Atlanta Beekeepers. She has two hives and no extra equipment and her hive had swarmed. She asked if I would like the swarm. I was THRILLED to go and get it; threw on my clothes and was out the door. Like most beekeepers at this time of year, my swarm collection gear is always in my car so I can literally jump in and head out, as long as I have put on my own clothes!

She had made a split from her largest hive and there was good evidence that it had swarmed as well. Then a few days later she sees this little teardrop of bees in the tree above her hives:

The swarm was quite small, as secondary swarms often are. The original swarm leaves with the hive's queen mother and about half the bees. But if there are virgin queens in the hive as may happen as queen cells emerge, a virgin queen may head up a smaller secondary swarm. This swarm has less of a survival chance because after the secondary swarm is rehived, the virgin queen still has to fly out, successfully mate, and return.

I have sworn not to go up ladders this year but this swarm was small enough and on a shrub at about seven feet off the ground. I climbed the ladder (very carefully!) and was able to snip off the branch and lower the bees into a honey bucket. 

Here's the video of the collection and rehousing of the bees in a nuc at my house.

Later that afternoon, I led a MABA hive inspection at the community garden where the two swarms I collected last week are installed. The first hive is going wild - building tons of wax and filling it with brood and nectar. They looked fabulous except for a couple of wonky combs in my foundationless frames. 

As I drove home from the inspection, my cell rang and it was the man who lived at the house where I collected my first swarm last week, the one mentioned in the paragraph above. He had another swarm in his yard and wanted to know if I wanted it. When I arrived, he told me that he had discovered the origin of the bees. He lent me his binoculars to look fifty feet up into a nearby tree where the bees were living.

The swarm was another secondary swarm, my second in this wonderful Saturday. It was equally easy to collect. 

Here is the video of that swarm capture and installation in my backyard.
What a wonderful, bee-filled Saturday! I'll take a day like that any day.

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