Bee swarm creates a buzz

It was the flight of the honey bees as a new colony formed on the allotments

Published on Thu, 25/05/2023 - 16:03

Thousands of honey bees took flight from their hive on 230B recently - into the branches of a nearby tree.

Beekeepers Tana, Kathy and friends were soon on hand to bring the swarm back to earth, with the help of a sawn-open water container attached to a long pole.

“After we suited up, I used the pole to bump them a few times so lots of them dropped into the container, and I then emptied them on to this sheet,” Tana explained. 

“We had placed a skep on the sheet with a gap at the bottom. They like the dark so they started climbing up into the skep.”

A skep is a bell-shaped wicker container, used in bee keeping.

“Once the queen went inside, the worker bees nearby started fanning, releasing a scent, which will attract the rest of the bees into the container,” she added.

But why did the bees leave their hive in the first place?

“It’s the natural way that honey bees reproduce in spring. When a hive gets too crowded the queen will leave with half the colony, to find a new home," Tana said.

“We’ve had a look at the hive they left behind, and made sure there is just one queen cell in there, as this should grow into a new queen for the bees that didn't swarm. This evening I will transfer the bees from the skep to an empty bee hive in our apiary, so they can become a new colony.”

The apiary on 230B

The apiary is run by members of Ealing Transition.