Beekeeping With Free Bees
Beekeeping is an expensive hobby, but the enterprising bee keeper can expand their operation with free bees. Honey bees swarm every spring and to those who know where to look and how to rescue these swarms, "Free Bees" details the steps necessary to acquire these swarms of honeybees for a few minutes of you time and a little fuel to arrive at the swarm site. This manuscript details the how-to. More
I derive great pleasure from chasing swarms of honeybees. And “chasing” is sometimes what it becomes. For more years that I can now count, I have put my name before the bee-fearing public as “bee catcher” to rescue innocent citizens from the perceived threats of swarms of honeybees. At times, you’d think I was their “knight in shining armor” and the cluster of honeybees as dangerous as a “fire-breathing dragon.”
On a typical, sunny day, the phone rings with a call from a desperate citizen who requests my help to remove a swarm of honeybees. They usually begin the conversation with the confession, “I got your name from _____,” as if I might be offended that they called me directly to come get a swarm. I am anything but offended. I’m glad to help. I’ve got the opportunity to catch “free” bees.
It’s been my joy and pleasure to have a work schedule open and flexible to come to their aid. And thank God for cell phones that can reach me just about anywhere, anytime. Through my experience, I’ve found it convenient, and at times necessary, to carry a swarm-retrieval kit in my car and to keep one at home in the garage, ready to go at a moment’s notice (more on this later).
Expediency is the real issue when receiving swarm calls. Some of these swarms have been hanging around for more than twenty-four hours and you don’t know when they’ll unwind and take off for their permanent location. Sometimes people who call you have no idea how long the swarm has been there. Sometimes they’ve watched the swarm sit for two days before they decide to call someone. And at times, I arrive to the caller’s location just minutes after the swarm left for parts unknown. You never know how long a swarm will wait for you. And in most cases, they won’t.
I often feel a sense of adrenaline rush to my heart as I hop in the car and drive like a crazy fool, hoping to arrive at the site before the swarm takes off for their new home. As the swarm hangs on a shrub, the scout bees are coming back and forth, conveying their findings of potential homesites to the clustering swarm. It’s only a matter of minutes before the swarm unwinds and takes off.
When I get a call, I feel the urgent need to go right away. However, I’ve had some swarms that were just not worth my effort. When I get a call to come retrieve a swarm and I miss it, I have to answer questions from these nervous neighbors about where the bees went, where it came from, and what about the remaining loose scout bees who missed their departing sisters.