Flat Stanley came to Seattle from a young relative in Pennsylvania. He got to visit a bee swarm when he was here.
We were just delighted to get into our hives in late March and find that most of them had survived. This is a good looking bunch of bees ready to go after the first pollen and nectar that they can find.
This was a huge swarm about 25 to 30 feet up in a pine tree. We got this swarm by using a 12 foot orchard ladder and a bucket taped to the end of a 20 foot aluminum painting pole. Those bees can feel pretty heavy at the end of a long pole!
We had lots and lots and lots of swarms in late April and early May this year. They were all from our own hives as far as I know. This was the weirdest swarm. It left the hive on a rainy day and landed on the edge of a garden bed.
Our happy news this year is that we lost only 4 out 24 hives last winter. The previous winter we had lost 18 of 19 hives so this was a great improvement. The big loss was probably from colony collapse. This winters losses were from running out of food.
Out hives looked really robust when we went through them in March. Some of them were making bees like crazy as we found out when they started to swarm. We currently have 34 hives. We bought 5 packages so that means that we caught 13 swarms. Twice, we caught 2 swarms in one day.
Beekeeping is a great but demanding hobby. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of learning the science of bees and the practical challenge of constructing and monitoring the hives. I feel a little like a space explorer when I put on my white coveralls, hat, vail and gloves to encounter this new species.