2021 – The swarming year. We could nickname it this way without any problem as far as we are concerned.
We stop for a moment to speak about honey to move on to another aspect of the bee world: swarming! This year was particularly full of them, so much that I started to think: could it be that our bees continue to swarm because they want me to speak about it in the blog? Maybe, why not! 🙂 I decided to fullful this possible wish of theirs, just in case!
Swarming: have you ever heard about it?
Another new entry in my personal vocabulary (in Italian too I mean) since I have been getting closer and closer to this world. I used to know the word swarm, yep, that means basically a group of bees. This is one of those words that you get taught when you are little in order to learn the collective nouns. Those singular words that are used to speak about a group of people, animals, things, such as: cattle, crowd, family, swarm… However, the word swarming, I must admit, was completely new to me!
For you too, it does not sound so familiar? Absolutely no problem, I’ll take your hand and I’ll show you one, my very first one!
First of all: what is a swarming?
That’s right, let’s move on gradually! Let’s take a small step back and let’s start.
Often, when we speak of bees, we speak of superorganism. Man comes into the world, grows, reproduces and dies. The same happens in the bee world, but not to the bee: to the superorganism instead! What do we mean exactly with this word? We mean the family of bees, the big group that puts so much effort to go on, to survive Winter, to prepare as much honey as possible, to help each other and so on. In the superorganism each bee has her own task and they are all extremely important. Thanks to this wonderful organisation the superorganism manages to keep on living. Now I get to the point – How does this superorganism reproduce? With the swarming!
Do you remember when here what do bees eat, if we take their honey away?? – Gaeblini, we told that the superorganism expands or contracts? When it’s at the top of its expansion, the swarming takes place.
The very first swarming: impossible to forget!
I am always writing and writing and again writing…but what am I always writing? Dunno, I note down ideas, thoughts, things that are happening,… Almost as if I am anxious to forget them, but actually no, it’s not a matter of anxiety, it’s more a kind of ‘I-enjoy-my-life’ attitude. I write it down and there it continues to live there. Every time I want to live again that moment, I can find it there, for me and for who else would like to enjoy it. I have a little book for our beekeeping projects as well, of course. Right there I have written about my very first swarming!
It was 31st May 2020, the day following my 29th Birthday. My very first birthday so far away from my family, due to the lockdown. Nevertheless, I managed to get out from this a unique and completely new experience, at least for me.
“You start to get old when you stop to learn” – Well, it was for sure a very nice way to start my brand new 29th year of life.
At this point I would simply copy here what I had written on this special diary, what do you think? Do you fancy this idea?
Here it is…
If there is something that is crystal clear for me is that here the weather can really change in less than a second: one moment you have a wonderful hot sun and then – blink of an eye – a great flood and 10 degrees. Considering this, with today sun and its 30 degrees, we couldn’t say no to a nice stroll + tea break. While enjoying this last one, I noticed that Basti was a bit nervous/thoughtful. He told me that once finished there, he had absolutely to check the beehives because with these high temperatures they were 100% active and there could be a swarming… Me, little ignorant beekeeper-to-be, I asked him how he could understand whether there was an ongoing swarming or not (I mean, at the apiary there are always so many flying bees, how can you understand that some are running away from their beehive with their old beequeen for never coming back?).
“When the sky gets dark, not for the clouds, but for a big group of bees instead…in addition, the sound! The sound is very intense…no worries, you notice when a swarming is happening!”.
“But then, when they run away, what do you do?? How do you manage to catch them??”.
“You ‘calm’ and guide them, if possible towards your own garden or a close bush, with a hose. When they settle down in a certain place, you can catch them…”.
At this point my curiousity was more than awaken, I was about to keep on with the questions when granpa Heinz came in…you can call it sixth sense, but: here it is, my very first swarming!
So all running out trying to calm down the fleeing bees…
Here he is Basti, as the bravest knight ever, taking his weapon! A super powerful (and super common) hose, shooting towards the fleeing bees! It was true: a dark cloud made of bees with a strong buzz! If from one side I was between being thrilled and shocked, to the other side Basti was calm and focused on his water-breathing dragon, whereas granpa Heinz was observing a bit nervous while repeating from time to time ´Scheiße!´. But why using this hose on the bees? It’s a trick: bees think that it’s raining and they are forced to settle down on the first branch or shelter available (so brilliant!). In approx. 15 minutes they were all on the neighbour’s tree (“but doesn’t the neighbour get angry?” “No no, they perfectly know that we are going to take care of the bees and bring them away from their garden!” “Ah ok!”). As any task related to beekeeping, we need to act with calm and patience…let’s let the bees settle down…”We will see each other later, when you are calmer!“
So, how was this first swarming taste? For sure something different from the honey one, but we really hope you enjoyed and found it interesting! 🙂 We will speak more about it, but if you have any specific question, do not hesitate to tell us and we’ll answer to you through the next articles 🙂