Our bees swarmed in mid-June with little additional fanfare. (See other posts link, above.) They moved on quickly, left some bees behind in the Big Tree, and all returned to normal. Except that maybe it didn’t.
The bees swarmed again. So late in June that the incident, reaching epic proportions, actually stretched into July.
On Day One of the Bee Exodus, we noticed five different groups of bees just feet from the original hive in the Big Tree. I thought it odd that they would swarm again. I was worried that they were swarming not because of overpopulation but because of a disease or perhaps some other problem in the Big Tree.
The following video shows the groups of bees and pans to the hole in the Big Tree where the original colony resides. Hopefully you can get an idea of the short distance they had traveled.
The next video shows three of the groups, and gives an idea of the amount of activity surrounding the swarms.
On Day Two, the bees had made one larger swarm instead of the smaller groups.
Here’s a video showing the swarm on Day Two, blowing in a pretty good wind but holding on tight!
On Day Three, July 1, the bees moved to the nearby apple trees and started dropping like flies. (A swarm in July isn’t worth a fly!) I was really concerned. Why hadn’t they found a new place to live yet? Would they all die?
On Day Four, the death rate seemed to plummet but the bees were still in the apple tree. I called the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association. The nice man I spoke with calmed me down. It is normal for a colony to swarm several times in a season, and in fact it was good news because it meant that the bees were doing well enough to split many times. He said that since the bees fill up on honey, they can usually survive three or four days before they have to find a new place to live. I explained that it had already been four days, and I didn’t know if I could do anything to help them in any way. He gave me the names of some beekeepers who would probably like a free swarm.
I thought, well, at least the bees would have a good home! But I waited one more day.
On Day Five, the bees were gone. That is, except for about dozen who seemed quite attached to the apple tree. I couldn’t quite tell what they were doing there, but Phil and I could see a few bees in the same spot for many days afterwards.
There are still bees in the Big Tree. All’s well that ends well. Whew!