Mondo swarmed today. Finally. Nearly a month later than last year’s first swarm. A big, beautiful, humming ball of bees. My brother, who happens to be one of our neighbors, called Kelly in a panic to report that there were “swarms of bees everywhere.” By the time I got home from work hours later, the bees had formed a cluster the size of a five-gallon bucket and hung from one of the highest branches of a juniper tree. Great.
We spent the better part of an hour maneuvering our extension ladder between branches. Then I suited up and climbed within reach of the swarm. I can’t get over bees. I can’t stop being in awe of them. Here are Mondo’s bees – thousands of them – setting out to find a new home. How did they ever learn to work so perfectly together as one cohesive mass of vibrating insects?
At any rate, after I had gazed at them and snapped half a dozen pictures from the top of my swaying extension ladder, I got down to business.
I carried up a five-gallon bucket and carefully brought it underneath the cluster of bees. Holding onto the bucket with my right hand, I took the branch firmly in my left hand and gave it a hard shake. There were still bees on the branch, so I repeated this shake several times.
Then I balanced the bucket on a branch and covered the top with soft window screen. I secured this over the top of the bucket with a bungee cord. Turns out it’s pretty tricky to shake all the bees out of juniper foliage, so I trotted down the swaying ladder, handed off the bucket to Kelly, and climbed back up. Ultimately, I sawed off the end of the branch the bees had hung from and took the whole thing with me.
We hived the bees back at our house, just before dark. As of this writing, we have not yet been able to put the lid on the hive because there are so many dang bees everywhere.
Now we wait and see if the swarm had multiple queens (multi-queen swarms are Mondo’s specialty). If it does, sub-groups of bees may decide to take off tomorrow. We suspect that this was a primary swarm (the old queen leaving the hive, while the remaining bees in Mondo raise new virgin queens). Still, we wouldn’t put a multi-queen swarm past this group. Stay tuned.