A Honeybee Swarm Moves Into a Hive

I was at home with kids about a week and a half ago when around 1:00 in the afternoon, I started hearing a loud buzzing. I’ve seen and heard enough honeybee swarms in my day (including this one) to know right off that I was hearing bees on the move. I ran up to the upper landing with my camera and soon was standing in the middle of a cloud of bees.

At this point, thousands of bees were in the air, and I couldn’t tell where they were coming from or where they were going.

I called Henry. “Your bees are swarming.”

“No, they’re not. It’s a swarm from somewhere else moving into the box in the rafters of the barn.”

He was right.

The most concentrated part of the swarm was circulating in and around the roof of our big barn. Henry had strategically placed two empty hive boxes in the rafters at each end in an attempt to attract swarms from local bee colonies. The hive locations were ideal for honeybees in terms of height and exposure, but they were also accessible enough to be able to manage them if a swarm did move in.

At first, I couldn’t tell which hive box they were going to pick. Henry had seen quite a few scout bees checking out the box on the south end of the barn in previous days, and eventually it became apparent that that would be their new home.

Over the next ten or so minutes, more and more bees landed on the outside of the box and began to enter the hive through the small hole.

This was the last photo I took before going back down to the house. When I went back the next day, the hive just looked like all our other occupied hives with workers heading in and out doing business as usual.

Henry has brought in at least five new bee colonies this spring by simply putting out well positioned catch hives that have attracted swarms. It doesn’t get much easier that that (if you know what you’re doing).

Once again, I was totally impressed by the crazy instinct and magic of swarming bees, and even though I was wearing a tank top and shorts and bees were literally landing in my hair, I didn’t get stung once. If you ever get the chance to observe a swarm up close someday, you should do it. It’s pretty awe inspiring.