So the saying goes:
A swarm in May, a bale of hay, a swarm in June, a silver spoon, a swarm in July, not worth a fly.
In other words, if you want to capture a bee swarm, let it be June, with several months of nectar and pollen remaining before the freeze. Then they have time to get themselves established and food stored for the long winter ahead. At least that applies to those of us in Northern climes.
With all this in mind, and inspired by Bello Uccello’s Klaus and Shirley, there is now a swarm trap installed in one of my cherry trees.
There are not a lot of bee hives in my direct area; however, one neighbour had three hives, and all three apparently fled the coop in November. Which is very odd. He believes they didn’t like the site of the hive (too damp). They didn’t die; he saw them many times returning this Spring to take their stored honey out of the hive and carry it off to their wild lair. They must be hardy and healthy bees, they made it through one of the toughest winters I’ve ever seen, with snow five feet deep. Perhaps in a hollow tree somewhere in the forest.
So the swarm trap is waiting.
I saw the honeybees in early Spring when they came in droves to the blossoms of the sugar maples all around my house. They also returned during the apple blossom season. This year is a strange year. Everything is late. Many days are cold, as much as 10*C below the norms. So I would say the bees have been challenged this Spring.
Now the comfrey is blooming. For the past week I’ve been watching for the honeybees. But only bumblebees and other wild cousins visiting the pink blooms. Today I spotted the first scout on the comfrey. About an acre of comfrey in bloom, I’d say that qualifies as mother lode in bee language. As I write this the scout is probably back at the hive already, doing the bee dance, giving directions. “Fly this far then turn right, then over the hill, and then straight up the rise.”