We have a new hive in the orchard, a Warre hive. Our first hive, a Kenyan Topbar hive has just completed it’s first year. Very soon, over half of these bees in this hive should swarm with their queen and move into a new home. We hope that they will notice the perfect home waiting for them just next door.
No queen stays in residence in the same hive for her entire lifespan, owing to the bees’ natural form of reproduction known as swarming. In a swarm – a wonderful and awe-inspiring sight to behold when the bees are in the air – the old queen and up to half of the colony’s inhabitants leave their home together and scout bees are dispatched to search for new quarters. The hive is left full of honey and ready for the emergence of a new virgin queen who, at the point of swarming, will still be developing inside her cell.
About 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees. Swarming is mainly a spring phenomenon, usually within a two- or three-week period depending on the locale, but occasional swarms can happen throughout the producing season. Scout bees search for suitable cavities in which to construct the swarm’s home. Successful scouts will then come back and report the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees
Here are photos of our new empty Warre hive which like our Kenyan hive, is also a top-bar hive which means that they build their own comb. Let’s hope our bees move into this one.