Its that time of the year when honey bee colonies in Western Pennsylvania begin their process of dividing - called swarming. Honey bees are not dangerous on a regular day and while swarming they are extremely docile - they are homeless, stomachs are full of honey and they just want a place to live!
I get a fair number of swarm calls every year and always look forward to them because you never know what you will see or find!
My first swarm was yesterday - it was one of the most difficult swarms ive attempted to catch. It was 30 ft up on a limb! With the help of another beekeeper, i had a 9 ft tall step ladder that I stood at the top of, plus a fully extended pole pruner that was about 10 ft tall. I was still short! Long story short, i eventually got a rope around the limb, pulled it down somewhat closer, attached a bucket to the pole pruner and knocked the swarm into into the bucket. I repeated this a few more times until I got most of the bees. If this wasnt exciting enough, this was done by the light of a flashlight at 10:00pm!
I placed the bees in a small nuc box and checked on them this mooring and found a good number of bees and located the queen - i could tell by her size that she was a virgin and had not been mated. Ill wait a few weeks to see if she starts laying eggs.
This evening, I received a call about another swarm not far from me. This swarm was much easy and HUGE! I had my mentee beekeeper, Nate Mallory with me and we were able to successfully get the swarm in the hive. This time, we needed a full size 10 frame hive to put the bees in. Its an exciting time to be a beekeeper!