I’ve caught my fair share of bee swarms and I’ve learned to watch for signs that a capture was successful. A typical honeybee swarm contains between 10,000 to 30,000 bees. When you shake the swarm into a box or container, there is a really good chance that you’ll get the queen (the odds are in your favour). However, if the queen takes flight before you seal up your box, then the rest of the swarm will know within minutes that she is not there.

The above video shows what happens if you don’t manage to capture the queen. We had to try four times before successfully capturing her in the box. The moment that she was inside, the rest of the bees stopped around the entrance and created a fanning chain, distributing her pheromones into the air for the rest of the bees to follow.

If you see a swarm of honeybees in your area, contact me through the form at the bottom of my swarm page and I’ll help put you in touch with a beekeeper who will remove them.

Chris with a swarm of bees

It’s that time of year where bees are reproducing (at the colony level) and I’ve started getting calls about bees around Kitchener and Waterloo. I was contacted late last night by someone who was looking for a beekeeper in Waterloo. Lucky for all of us – including the bees – I fit the bill.

My friend Geoff and I both lost our bees to a long cold winter, so we jumped on the opportunity to rescue this swarm. We set out early this morning and shook the bees into a new hive box. With any luck, the bees will stick around and Geoff will transfer them to his bee yard in St. Jacobs.

If you see a swarm of bees in your area, please contact me using the form at the bottom of my swarm page. If I can’t rescue the bees myself, I will find someone who will.

Dan Davidson – president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association – released a letter today informing beekeepers that the Province of Ontario has decided to give money to beekeepers who suffer losses this year. The letter says:

Dear Beekeeper,

On Tuesday afternoon, OBA board members were informed at a meeting with senior OMAF officials that the Province has developed a one-time compensation package for beekeepers experiencing higher than normal mortality rates. Compensation includes $105 per hive to beekeepers with more than ten hives who experience hive mortality of over 40% of their colonies between Jan. 1st and October 31, 2014. OBA has been advocating for over a year for beekeeper compensation related to extraordinary bee deaths. The amount per hive provided under this program is significantly less than we were proposing; however, we feel it is a good first step and shows awareness of the hardships many Ontario beekeepers are experiencing. We are pleased, as well, that losses will include those occurring over the summer and early fall, and not just winter. This is significant. Ontario is the first province to compensate beekeepers for losses likely caused by pesticides as well as other causes. We will be getting back to everyone with further information as it becomes available.

OBA is preparing a press release for later today. Watch the website and future newsletters for new developments.

All the best,
Dan
Dan Davidson, President

This is great news for anyone that has lost a significant portion of their colonies this past winter and heading into the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify myself, because I have fewer than 10 hives. Still, I’m sure this will come as a great help to many beekeepers.

Forms to apply for this compensation will be available by mid-May, 2014.

I recently discovered that my Langstroth hives have both died over this past winter. In the video above, I perform an autopsy on the hives to try and determine what killed them.

In the first hive, it looks like the bees may have starved after a really long and cold winter. I believe I missed an opportunity to feed them in early spring. They only had a tiny bit of honey left and it was on the opposite side of the hive. In the second colony, I actually removed 10 full frames of honey from the two deep boxes – more than enough to survive the winter. I suspect the chalkbrood that had plagued them in the fall didn’t allow them to build up their colony to a size that was necessary to survive the winter.

I’ll be on the lookout for swarms this spring to get new bees to populate these sad, empty hives.

Aganetha Dyck has been creating artwork with tens of thousands of tiny helpers for years. Dyck – a Canadian artist – has collaborated with live honeybees to help her create some of the most stunning and fascinating sculptures using various materials and natural beeswax, provided by the bees.

The above video shows an exhibit called Guest Workers, which features live honeybees in action. Some of Dyck’s previous work includes figurines and other objects that have been covered with beeswax comb, directly from within the hive.

For more information, and plenty more photos, visit Dyck’s web site.

Aganetha Dyck sculpture

Aganetha Dyck sculpture

Aganetha Dyck sculpture