First swarm of 2021

The first swarm came into the garden on Saturday 20 March 2021. One day earlier than our first swarm last year. I do not know where it came from but it was not one of ours. We had divided our largest hive “Poppy” and put on a super. We did wonder If she could have swarmed but she is happily filling the super at this moment and the others are not ready yet.

We were happy to give this swarm a home.

The swarm had landed not too high on a cotoneaster and Kourosh held the hive under the swarm and I shook the bees into the hive. We added frames and placed it on a sheet to encourage any stragglers to crawl in.

Job done! Time for a cold drink and self-congratulations.

When we returned to check on the hive it appeared that all the bees were not in agreement of staying in their new home. We had to collect them in the bucket and pour them into the opened hive.

After a few more disagreements they gave up and settled in.

This is our friends’ hive so we put it in an outbuilding in the dark for two nights before we took them to our friends’ nearby hive area very early in the morning. Kourosh opened their entrance later in the morning and they have accepted their new home graciously.

The star of the garden at the moment is our flowering cherry “Accolade”. O.K. it isn’t very big but its our first flowering cherry and it is only its second year in the garden.

You really need to get a bit closer to appreciate the flowers.

Just beautiful!

The bees are in total agreement with our choice.

Talking of bees, I saw two carpenter bees mating holding onto the petals of the leucojum. I cannot remember seeing them mating before.

Yesterday I noticed a strange circle showing in the grass of our front lawn. Aliens? Fungal disease?

No, it was only Kourosh cutting the grass but not having the heart to mow down all the Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) flowers !

30 thoughts on “First swarm of 2021

  1. Michael Judd

    Hey well done, until I read that your swarm is on about the same date as last year I thought all was a bit early this year. A friend of mine yesterday told me he had caught 5 swarms already. The other interesting thing is that I have noticed swarms ( apparently from somewhere else (( I.e. not from your hives))) appearing in the same place in following years. I have seen this happen here. I have also read somewhere that the bees somehow have a collective memory and do swarm to the same place, say a year later. Amazing but the evidence seems to be there.
    Any way thank you both for your site and great photos and I am about to do some serious swarm preventing and set out a ruchette to tempt any swarm into it rather than a high tree !

    Good luck


    1. This is my personal thought – the ruchette piege attracts the eclaireuse who bring the swarm nearby as perhaps a first step. This is because I have noticed a few days of high activity around a ruchette piege before a we get a swarm. After we catch it the activity calms down again. I noticed in BBKA News (March 2021) that Wally Shaw wrote an article on Swarm Composition with the Pagden method. He was rather scathing about writers not being clear on the success rate of this method and says he has a 50% success rate with it. Interesting. Amelia


      1. Michael Judd

        I think there is a certain logic there as one can’t watch our friends all the time so we cant be certain. There must be so many swarms that escape our notice. Last year for example, I saw two swarms ( I go to see them once a week) I collected one the other was too high. As a result I carry our very early and active swarm control. I divide them and create more colonies rather than find them swarm and take a long time . One must bear in mind that if a colony swarms it will probably set of a number of secondaries. This simply makes the main colony so weak it will never produce any honey as it will take a long time in prime season to recover. So I think it is better to control swarms by moving frames around or dividing the colony to stop the swarming.



  2. Malcolm Gillham

    This is the first Spring in our new garden, and a couple of weeks ago I spotted a green-winged orchid. I thought, what luck! Since then, they have popped up all over the garden, even among the fruit trees I planted in January. So now I am in total mowing paralysis – which is not such a bad thing. When they die back I will select areas of the garden to mow, for walking on, and leave areas for the wild flowers – unless the next orchid species arrives…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Last year was an abundant orchid year in this area and the weather has been very similar so it looks like you are in for a treat. It also reminds me that it is time for a visit to a nearby protected site to see the early orchids. Amelia


        1. The swarm protects the queen and they would be lost without her – if say a bird ate her. This is the way honeybees reproduce. They live only in colonies with one queen who in the spring produces a new queen leaving her the old colony and setting of with a group of the honeybees to found a new colony i.e. one honeybee colony becomes two.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Neither the queen not any of the bees are confined to the box ever. The box is totally open and the bees free to come and go. It is their home and they choose to live there. The new queen only leaves to be fertilised then stays at home laying eggs all her life, unless she swarms to found a new colony. She leaves when the colony chooses to swarm.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. What a thrilling adventure! Not being a beekeeper, this is all new to me. I did see a swarm fly over our property once. And there was a wild hive for several years in a eucalyptus tree near our place. Another time, I saw a swarm that had landed on a neighbors pine, and took up residence there. I look forward to learning more about bees from your blog. Beautiful flowering cherry!

    Liked by 1 person

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