On the Farm: A Bit About Bees

If you’ve been out to Sea Cider this spring, you may have noticed our honey bee hives in the center of our orchard. We work with the good folks over at Country Bee and wanted to ask them a bit about why we’ve been seeing so many ‘swarms’ of bees. Apparently, we have some very healthy, prolific hives – which is great news! But, it does pose a bit of a safety risk to our staff and visiting customers when our bees swarm. Lindsay from Urban Bee comes by to check on the hives occasionally and due to the active nature of our hives, she’s broken them up from time to time to prevent swarms.

The Queen Bee generally spends her days laying around in the hive being fed by her worker bees – her job is to make babies. When there is a lot of food around, like in an apple orchard in full bloom, the hive grows quickly and when it reaches a pinnacle point, the queen births a new queen. The old queen then leaves in a swarm with about 60% of the workers to find a new place to build a hive. This is what they are doing when we see a ‘swarm’ on the property near the original hive – they are waiting and scouting out a new location. They will swarm for a couple of hours to a couple of days while they send out “scout” bees that look for an appropriate permanent home.

If you see a swarm and are concerned that they may settle in a troublesome spot, be sure to contact a local apiary. Bee swarms can almost always be collected alive and relocated by a competent beekeeper or bee removal company. Extermination of a bee swarm is rarely necessary and discouraged if bee removal is possible.

If you like cider, it’s important to save the bees!