….arrives on the urban homestead. While the internet is a buzz with stories of colony collapse disorder I am happy to report bees are alive and doing well in this here city.

Last Spring we captured a swarm (read all about it here) and the bees have been happily residing on the urban homestead ever since. In exchange for free room and board the bees are are pollinating our crops and trees. With the warm weather and flowering fruit trees and flowers the bees have been busy and we can smell the honey! The sweet smell of their hard work permeates the backyard. How sweet is that?

This afternoon while picking salad and edible flowers for one of our clients, Justin spotted another swarm of bees in the orange tree at the back of our property. He came in and informed us “hey, guys there’s a swarm in the orange tree.” Of first concern was it our hive that was doing the swarming. Thankfully it wasn’t our colony of bees, instead some new arrivals had decided to buzz into our lives. There must be a mega hive somewhere nearby!

Everyone scrambled… all hands on deck to grab this swarm! Jordanne and I grabbed our cameras to capture the excitement, Justin went into the garage to bring out the empty top bar hive and Mr Beekeeper went to inspect the new arrivals seeing if he could spot the queen (she’s the important one to look for)

With thousands of bees swarming all over the place (not picked up by the camera unfortunately) Mr Beekeeper and Justin calmly inspect the colony of bees….

beeswarm1.jpg Mr Beekeeper directs Justin where to place the top bar hive

beeswarm2.jpg Elevating the top bar hive just underneath the swarm

beeswarm3.jpg Here comes the ladder

beeswarm4.jpg Mr Beekeeper grabs the branch and gives it a sharp shake

beeswarm5.jpg The cluster of bees fall into the top bar hive

beeswarm6.jpg Now that the swarm is in the hive time to put the top on

beeswarm7.jpg Mr Beekeeper inspects the new arrivals and wonders if he/we captured the queen

beeswarm9.jpg Bees going in and out of the new hive….

and then there were none. Zilch, nadda, goose egg. The top bar hive was empty.

Unfortunately, within a 1/2 hour the bees didn’t stay long in their new home. It wasn’t because they didn’t like their new lodgings. Having kept bees since the 1970’s Mr Beekeeper thinks it could have been a “false swarm.” He says that most of the time the queen is among the first to leave the hive and occasionally she doesn’t find her way out of the hive at all in which case the swarm will return. Which explains why the bees never really settled down to form a cohesive swarm, instead the bees kept circling probably wondering where their queen had gone.

:: Resources ::

Top Bar Beekeeping

Top Bar Bee Hive & ‘How To’ DVD

No Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I am curious how many stings Mr. Beekeeper and Justin got?

  2. Anais says:

    Hello Sarah

    No stings! Honest.

    Bees don’t necessarily sting unless provoked and when they are busy swarming like that they have other things on their mind than stinging people.


  3. Marilyn says:

    With all that work and nothing to show for it (due to nature’s quirks), I thought that maybe you would get a case of FCD (Family Collapse Disorder). With Nature always having the last say in anything you do, you certainly have my admiration for your perseverance. Thanks for the inspirational work you do.

    Marilyn, long time reader

  4. Lizz says:

    Interesting and educational, I’ll share this with my homeschooling kids. Thanks!

  5. Laura Rodriguez says:

    This morning discovered what I thought was a swarm of bees on the lid of one of my compost bins. I’ve been observing them and they seem to be constructing a hive. Would you be interested in these bees? I don’t want them to be killed. So far, they have been gentle and are only interested in building the hive. It is about the size of a softball. We live in east Pasadena so it’s not far from your home. Let me know. Thank you.

  6. Chris says:

    I have a very healthy (I think) hive in my back yard. I love honey and would maybe like to keep these bees. At the very least I do not want them harmed. I would appreciate some help or advice. I live in Altadena and I know of another hive that I removed to Channey trail. Are you interested?

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