Bad News Bees

Just as the Bad News Bears were an unruly bunch of kids, sometimes a hive of bees can develop a rowdy streak.

But good news came with the bad today…

Bad News: one of our hives swarmed, with 30,000 of the bees (half the hive) following a rouge queen out the door. Yikes, that means the remaining 30,000 bees left back in the hive will have a lot of work cut out for them to prepare for the winter.

Good News: I was having a casual work meeting in my backyard discussing the graduate program where I teach with a prospective student at the time, so I got to witness the swarming. Very cool phenomenon; imagine a tornado of bees rising up in front of you.

Bad News: the swarm headed down our hill, and settled on a tree branch…directly over a 2′ tall biting ant hill. Ouch.

Good News: the branch was only 12′ off the ground, easily reachable via an 8′ ladder, which helped us avoid the ants, too.

Bad News: to recapture the swarm, you need a place to put them, and I only had 80% of the needed materials on hand.

Good News: a quick set of phone calls to my local bee-keeping buddies brought out the calvary (pictured here, along with my son the documentarian) who dropped what they were doing and arrived with extra materials in hand (and lots of wisdom for the capture).

Best News: we (that’s the royal we, meaning mostly my beekeeper buddies) successfully captured the swarm and placed them in a temporary hive. After a few days in there I’ll attempt to reintegrate them into their original hive to keep them strong and productive. UPDATE: started the reintegration process; we’ll see what happens in the next 48 hours.