This afternoon Jonas called me to look out the window because the wind was acting weird and things were flying around in circles in the back yard.

It wasn’t the wind.

What Jonas was lucky enough to notice was that the bees were swarming.

Honeybees do this when their colony is doing well. It’s a way to reproduce by creating a new queen and sending the old one out into the world with a bunch of workers to build a new hive somewhere. 

When they do it, it looks like a bee tornado.

The first video was early — probably not too long after they decided to ship out of the hive — but during the second they were starting to coalesce a bit. You can hear the buzzing if you listen closely. (Jonas was not exactly delighted by any of this.) Eventually I saw that they were beginning to land on the grape vines, and in another half hour or so they had all decided on a post of the grape arbor.

This is a nice, sheltered spot, and hopefully they have a little trouble finding a suitable log or hole to move into. We need to put on the bee suits and scoop them up into a box to give them a new hive. Better beekeepers would have built a second top bar hive long ago for just this occasion, but we have been caught flat-footed here. Kirk can knock one together tomorrow and we can dump them in. If we’re lucky, we’ll have two beehives, which doubles our chances of having some live through the winter.

More on this saga as it unfolds.


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