The last three years we have lost our honeybees in the spring when the weather was warm for a couple weeks and then became below freezing shortly after. The bees all died in the hive but away from their honey source. There are lots of reasons this can happen but that’s for the experts to say, not me. This post will be about what I have learned.
Our hive of 2022 came from a wild swarm that occurred after the weather warmed. They have so far survived and actually swarmed yesterday which was a total surprise.
Our son lost his hive this spring just like we did the past three years. He has become a real bee/honey enthusiast. After some research, rather than buy new bees which are very expensive (colony of honeybees is normally sold by farmers for well over $125) he decided to make some honeybee swarm traps for himself and for us.
Honeybee colonies that have had swarming taking place are left with a greatly reduced population of honeybees. Usually, the swarm leaves with 60-70% of the adult bees in the parent colony. Since we personally had a swarm yesterday, I am concerned that this reduction of the colony and the crazy weather may cause the loss of our hive even now.
We had two swarm traps hung but I don’t think they would have held this swarm and the traps may be hung to low. The swarm trap should be up a month before the swarm season when dandelion begins blooming. Our yard around the hives is full of dandelions and the honeybees are all over them and the location of the trap should be around 100 yards away from the hives. The swarm trap should be placed 10 feet off of the ground, according to the research I did after we lost the swarm. The swarm trap should face away from winds and towards the north so it can get enough sunlight in the morning.
We will be moving the traps we now have up and adding more lemongrass oil. To use lemongrass oil, soak a cotton swab in it and dab the entryway with it. Then leave the cotton swab inside the trap. I just put a few drops at the entryway of the trap initially but know better now.
When we finally catch a swarm, the first thing we need to make sure that the swarm doesn’t leave and let them settle. If we start inspecting them as soon as we catch them or try to move their location immediately, they will try to leave.
We need to make them feel at home, as though it was their idea to choose this trap. Once all of the scout bees come back and the swarm is nicely contained, then carefully and gently move it to a hive we have ready and install the bees in their new home.