A Swarm in August is Worth...

Most beekeepers are familiar with the old english rhyme "a swarm in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, a swarm in July isn't worth a fly."  Well we've often wondered with today's modern management practices and effective feeding options if that old rhyme was outdated.  WCOBA president Dwight Wells and Cedar Bog Nature Preserve site manager Eric Doerzbacher got the chance this summer to pit 2012 beekeeping practices against traditional thinking in a race against the calendar.

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is home to many native and unique plant and animal species in the west central Ohio area.  In addition to a wide variety of native pollinators, Cedar Bog's forest trees are home to feral honey bees.  Several years ago Cedar Bog and WCOBA joined forces to promote this resident population for pollination through the capture of swarms within the preserve.  Several swarm traps are located around the preserve with the goal to keep the bees in the bog.

On August 10, 2012 site manager Doerzbacher checked one of the traps and found that a swarm had taken up residence.  The swarm is believed to have moved in early August as the trap had been checked and was empty in late July.  Instead of locating inside the trap as expected, the bees began building their combs on the bottom of the trap requiring cutout and comb transfer.  WCOBA's Dwight Wells had been waiting for a chance to apply modern practices to a late season swarm.  WCOBA members immediately began feeding the colony protein patties and sugar syrup in a race against time.

How did the colony fare over the late summer and early autumn?  WCOBA closed up the hive for winter as a strong healthy double deep 8 frame (16 deep frames total) colony of bees and honey.  While we don't have any catchy rhymes for the worth of a swarm in August, with modern management practices and inexpensive nutritional feeding options we would definitely say that a swarm in August is worth the effort.

Check out the attached photo presentation of the colony from swarm to managed colony to winter readiness by clicking the photo or link below.  We'll attempt to post an update on this colony in the Spring.





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