Saul Creek Apiary
Raw Honey Pollination Equipment
Honey Bee Swarm
The following is not only for Beekeepers both new and seasoned but also for home and or property owners that find themselves faced with several thousand uninvited insects known as Honey Bees. For those of us living anywhere from Florida to Texas to California we live in what is known as Africanized Honey Bee Infected States. This makes removing Swarms or removing established Colonies a little bit different than someone that lives further North in non Africanized infected areas. For home and property owners this can be a very dangerous situation as Africanized Honey Bees are extremely unpredictable. Swarms such as the one pictured above can seem extremely docile allowing the curious home owner to get very close without so much as a fly by and give Beekeepers the courage to work with little or no protective gear. The problems start when the Bees take up residence in either a wall, shed or other shelter that the Bees feel will make a good home or when the Beekeeper that removed the Swarm introduces the colony into a hive body and the colony establishes a Brood Chamber where the Queen can start laying eggs. With eggs being laid, the Colony now switches into defensive mode and will protect the hive with their lives sending out hundreds if not thousands of Bees to insure that the Colony lives on. Africanized Honey Bees are also known to throw small swarms such as the one in the picture above which insures that the Africanized Genes live on. These swarms can even over take weak or small managed Colonies therefore turning them into Africanized Colonies as the Africanized Queen starts laying eggs and the Africanized multiplying process starts all over. Unfortunately most Beekeepers are not equipped to handle Africanized Honey Bees and can get deep in trouble in a matter of seconds. For those Beekeepers that wear protective suits, most are only rated as "Sting Resistant" and not "Sting Proof". Sting resistant means that Bees can possibly sting through the material. Sting Resistant Suits provide little to no protection from an Africanized Bee attack. If your a Beekeeper removing Swarms or established Colonies, make a plan on how you will deal with an Africanized Colony well before you become committed with the removal. Purchase a quality "Sting Proof" suit and be prepared to deal with aggressive Bees should the need arise, your life may depend on it!
Swarms: Swarms such as the one pictured above are merely Colonies that are in transition. Normally these Swarms are found hanging from tree limbs or any place where the swarm can gather close to or around the Queen to rest while scouts are sent out to look for a more permanent home. If left alone these swarms will only be in place from just a few minutes to a few hours and will disappear just a quick as they arrived. Extreme caution should however be used where humans or pets can come into contact with Honeybee Swarms. Swarms such as the one pictured above however rare can be extremely aggressive.
What Causes Bees to Swarm: There is a variety of reasons why Honeybees will Swarm. The most common in managed colonies is poor hive management which includes crowding, disease and a lack of hive maintenance. In feral colonies if the colony is not diseased the most common reason for swarming is lack of room or crowding within whatever the bees are located in such as a hollow tree or wall of a building. Genetics also plays a very important role in swarming as many colonies have a very high tendency to swarm which guarantees that the colonies genetics will live on. In managed colonies lack of room in early springtime when colonies are building up for the upcoming nectar flow will cause the colony to start building swarm cells. Honeybee Queens produce what is called Pheromones which is very distinct to every queen. The Queens Pheromone is also an indicator to the colony of here health. A very strong Pheromone scent tells the colony that the Queen is in good health which which in turn reflects the entire colonies health. A queen with a weak scent or a queen that is unhealthy will cause the colony to produce queens cells to replace the failing queen.
Queen Swarm Cell Cups
Replacing Honeybee Queens in Feral Colonies: Many states require beekeepers that perform honeybee removal to re-queen all feral colonies (Feral Colony: Feral Colonies are any colony that is not managed or a colony that comes from a hive or swarm of unknown genetics) with a queen of known genetics. This includes hanging swarms as well as established colonies to prevent the spread of Africanized Bees.
A Word of Caution to Beekeepers: Introducing colonies of unknown genetics and origin into your bee yard can not only introduce Africanized Bees to your managed colonies it can also introduce diseases that can effect every colony in your yard as well as tools and equipment. Many of us take re-queening very seriously as not following State guidelines for re-queening can affect not only other beekeepers managed colonies but any feral colonies within the area.
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