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August 7, 2020

6/17/2020 2:04:00 PM
Spring swarms are a beekeeper's delight
Rita Hyden dons gloves in preparation to assist beekeeper Mac Calhoun in capturing the swarm of bees she discovered while walking around her eight acres last month. At right are the “combs” where the bees will eventually transform pollen to honey.
+ click to enlarge
Rita Hyden dons gloves in preparation to assist beekeeper Mac Calhoun in capturing the swarm of bees she discovered while walking around her eight acres last month. At right are the “combs” where the bees will eventually transform pollen to honey.
Mac’s wife Sheila holds the limb down as Mac saws it off and Rita steadies the hive to catch any bees that fall off. Too many bees were clinging to the branch to leave it undisturbed.
+ click to enlarge
Mac’s wife Sheila holds the limb down as Mac saws it off and Rita steadies the hive to catch any bees that fall off. Too many bees were clinging to the branch to leave it undisturbed.
It may be a phenomenon of nature, but it still can be pretty scary to most.

Not to Rita Hyden, though. She has seen a swarm of bees several times over the last 27 years at her eight acres out on Norris Avenue. Last month, as she walked around her yard, she noticed another buzzing mass and immediately called local beekeeper Mac Calhoun.

Bees swarm for undetermined reasons, but the result is a new hive.
Future queens are prepared in the old hive, but before the first emerges, the reigning queen and half the hive take flight, in search of another home. Those that remain pledge allegiance to their new queen.

In the meantime, a swarm means good luck as well as free bees to a beekeeper. Most are anxious to capture such swarms.

Mac arrived soon after Rita called with his wife and all the supplies he would need to capture the hive, increasing his present aviary to three.

This is the second year Mac and Sheila have kept bees, inspired by Sheila's dad, Gene Simmons, who was a long time beekeeper.

First job was to prepare for their face to face meeting with these pollinators who all punch a good sting. Gloves and a mesh hat were given to Rita while Mac donned a protective shirt complete with meshed hood.

From there, it was a matter of holding the plastic hive below the swarm and shaking the limb so the insects would drop. The goal was to get the queen situated in the new hive, which would attract her workers to follow suit. While many did enter the hive, the limb eventually was sawed off so Mac could shake the holdouts into their new abode.
Checking and observing carefully, it was determined the queen must be inside as the worker bees seemed to happily stay put.

"They must be happy in there," said Mac, "They're not coming out."

That said, the hive was closed up, the Calhouns got back in their truck, Rita waved goodbye as the new hive was on its way to a new locale in which to gather pollen and make honey.





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