Building Better With Bees

Late spring is swarm season, the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. John Clift/Flickr

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA):

Spring Is Swarm Season, When Beekeepers Are On The Hunt For New Hives

Late spring is swarm season — the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest and zoom through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

While a new neighborhood beehive can be stressful for homeowners, it’s an exciting time for beekeepers, who see it as an opportunity.

Recently, these vital pollinators have been under threat. U.S. beekeepers report losing about a third of their honeybee colonies each year in recent years. And North America’s 4,000 other species of native bees are also declining.

So, when a swarm is announced on the Bee Town Bee Club Facebook page in Bloomington, Ind., beekeepers race to call dibs.

“I thought it was pollen flying off the trees. I looked closer and realized they were honeybees,” says Kara Krothe, who posted pictures of the swarm in her tree on a recent Thursday evening. “I texted the neighbor and told her to take her kids inside, because I didn’t know what was going on.”

By Friday morning, beekeeper Jill Stowers was in Krothe’s backyard looking up at the cluster of bees. After seeing Krothe’s note on social media, Stowers rushed over in the hopes of capturing the wild bees.

Sowers is not wearing any protective gear: All she’s got is a paper filing box, which she’s hoping to fill with bees. But she’s not concerned about her safety — swarming bees are calm.

“They’re not defending a hive. They don’t have a huge honey store they’re defending. They don’t have babies and pollen,” Stowers explains.

Her plan is to climb a ladder and just shake the bees into the box. Easy.

Stowers maintains several colonies on her hobby farm and has coaxed new colonies onto her property twice already this season. Snagging these wild bees would be a money saver — if she can catch them. The more healthy bees beekeepers raise, the more honey they harvest, and the more local plants get pollinated…

Read the whole article here.

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