Returned from USA to find this nice little swarm by the back door! Safely housed and doing well. These are the descendants of my friend Valdo’s Italian queen.
Attended the 2nd International Workshop on Hive and Bee Monitoring in Montana. What a blast, with presentations on smart hives, the NASA HoneyBeeNet project and acoustic monitoring. Perhaps the standout was the LIDAR (Laser Imaging, Detection and Ranging) project with the bees used for detecting land mines. They got the kit out for the outdoor workshop..
First the garden filled with bees which I thought was the mating flight. There seemed to be drones but also many workers. Then the bees gathered into a swarm cluster at the top of a ti tree (about 5m up). I was desperately attaching a bucket to a stick as the ladder wouldn’t reach, but then looked up to find them vanished. Either this was what is described as a mating swarm, where the virgin queen stops for a rest on a branch before returning to the hive with a number of workers having excitedly following. Or they cast a swarm with a virgin queen which moved off very quickly and I lost them. If so, they only clustered for about 10 min which seems a bit unsporting.
A cutout from a factory in Kensington, with the combs conveniently located below a sort of loading dock. These bees are destined for a farm in Warragul, with my friends Janet and Rodger, so they came along for the ride. Went really well, found the queen and marked her.
Placed some of the surplus comb in a bucket inside the hive for the bees to clean up. This shows how fast they can build comb – 24h work!