Currently 23 traps have been deployed and as far as I know there have been no takers. Given the recent shift in the weather I am actually a little glad. Up until last Friday weather had been unseasonably warm for my area. Many plants had been blooming 2-3 weeks ahead of “normal” and thus swarming was early as well. I have many beekeeping friends who reported already catching many swarms. Since last Friday (4/20/12) we have had frost warnings for several evenings including last night. I have not seen frost at my house, but some low-lying areas could have potentially gotten hit.
The fate of all of those early swarms will be interesting to follow. They are at their most vulnerable right now, and only have the honey stores they carried with them when they left the parent colony. The variety and quantity of blooms, so prevalent two weeks ago are gone, except in small pockets. The cold temps have pretty much stopped the progression that had been clicking right along. I noticed some Black Locust beginning to bloom on 4/19. This seems to have halted and the winds we have been having will probably cause havoc on the delicate locust flowers. Furthermore the farmers in my area have been spraying and tilling thus reducing available forage even more.
I hope that all those early swarms find a way to survive, but the deck sure seems stacked against them right now. I suppose they could always be feed sugar syrup but that will do nothing for the pollen that is desperately needed for the colony to build brood. Perhaps pollen substitutes could be purchased and fed. With the permission of a couple of friends I will return to the subject of those early swarms in a couple of weeks. If you have early swarms you have some thinking to do.
The real tragedy may not even bee seen for several months. Every single one of those swarms left behind virgin queens that must take to the air in order to become viable. Nuptial flights in winds 15-25 mph will be precarious for those queens. That is in the event that the queens even make it out at if this weather does not warm. According to François Huber in New Observations on the Natural History Of Bees Volume I
“If she receives the male during the first fifteen days of her life, she remains capable of laying both the eggs of workers and of drones; but should fecundation be retarded until the twenty-second day, her ovaries are vitiated in such a manner that she becomes unfit for laying the eggs of workers, and will produce only those of drones.”
We haven’t had that long of a stretch of bad weather yet. I am hoping that things turn around soon.
What do you think? Leave comments or e-mail me.
Weird we have been having high winds and cold as well, for us though this is not outside of our seasonal norms, so our colonies would only start to thinking about swarming in may. It might not be that bad, if you have drones the the new queens only need one or two warm days. My hives have started making drones but I have not seen any of them alive outside of their colonies.
You are lucky as far as that weather being as typical as weather can be. It is normal for us to have crazy swings in weather here in the spring. I know the queens only need one or two good days to get there nuptials accomplished and today was actually not too bad of a day other than being windy. I am hoping for the best for those colonies. These are just the kind of things that keep me up at night as a beekeeper. As time goes on keep me posted as to how things progress for you. Once you start having swarming send me an e-mail or leave me a comment along with your zip code. I will log it in my bee diary. All of the information is useful to me.
Being human in our little temperature controlled domains makes us out of touch with the patterns that all of the rest of nature is in-tune with. I believe there is a great amount of knowledge to be learned from observing what is going on around us. Good luck to ya Sam and thanks for reading.