With the warming spring weather, honeybee swarms have started to occur. This is the time of year when bees realize their hives are too large, and half of the bees follow a new Queen Bee in a large swarm to seek a new home. These swarms are generally quite docile, but if unintentionally spooked, bees can sting to protect their queen. (Unlike with the stings of wasps, a bee stinging is committing suicide.) If you do spot a swarm in action, report it online at — www.portlandurbanbeekeepers.com — and someone will be out to give the swarm a good home, and keep the community safe.
On April 24, Nina Smith, a new urban beekeeper in the Brooklyn neighborhood, was alerted to a swarm hanging in a street tree at S.E. 11th Avenue and Bush Street. Donning her white beekeeper veiled hat and attire, Smith went there with a white bedsheet and an old hive box that had some old honeycomb inside, to lure the bees into their new home.
Smith also placed yellow caution tape around the site, and a sign alerting passers-by to be cautious. Beekeepers are always concerned about both the bees and the community while performing their work.
At about 10 a.m. on that morning, Smith and a friend shook the bee swarm into the new hive box, then placed it on a nearby white sheet to watch the bees enter their new home. "If you get the queen from the center of the swarm into this new home, the rest of the bees will follow her pheromones and settle into the new hive box. It's fascinating to watch them gather at the entry crack at the bottom to explore their new home and clean it up," she told us.
"I intend to stay here all day until about 9:30 p.m., when it gets dark, so we can pick up as many stray honeybees as we can. Some bees will undoubtedly arrive after we've left, and will cluster in the tree near the scent of their queen, but they won't know where she's gone. Unfortunately, this small group of stragglers will simply hang together there and die, although they may sting an unwary passerby, if disturbed." The number of bees available to pollinate flowers and crops is in decline, so help save the bees by reporting any swarms you may come across. And don't disturb them, for their sake and yours!
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