bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In, out, shake it all about, oooohhhh ....

That mating nucleus in my garden has been teasing me for three days. It's just below my office window and six times in the past three days it has attempted to swarm. No, let me correct that -- five times it attempted to swarm, the sixth time it was successful.

The fifth attempt ended up in my next door neighbour's garden. But they returned, presumably because the queen decided not to go with them.

The sixth, successful, attempt ended up three gardens away. I have caught it in a skep and wonder if they will stay there until dusk.

My questions: why did it take six attempts to swarm? Is this a regular occurrence? Do beekeepers tend to miss this because they are not so close to their hives during the working day? Perhaps they only tried three times and two of the attempts were actually the returning queenless swarm? And did I miss any attempts? And, and, and ...

My twenty-year-old cat, however, seems to have a sixth sense. She knows about 15-30 minutes in advance of when they will swarm and beats a retreat indoors from the garden. Perhaps, she smells the swarming pheromones, assuming there are such things.

The fifth, queenless swarm that returned from its birch tree hang-out:
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