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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Carol Horwitz

Honeybee Swarm Season in Northern New Mexico

The apple trees and wild plums are blooming. That means it is honeybee swarm season in Northern New Mexico. Swarm season occurs annually in the spring when our fruit trees are in full flower. A honeybee swarm, while it can look frightening, is really just a honeybee colony “giving birth.” This happens when the colony outgrows its home. Inside the hive the worker bees have come to consensus that it is time to move. They tell their queen to lay eggs for future queens and slim down a bit for flight. Concurrently the workers fill their stomachs with honey, enough to last a few days. Then half the colony and the queen leave en masse – usually parking for a short time in a nearby bush or tree or the veranda of your home. Scout honeybees go out to look for a new home location – a tree cavity, and old beehive, your canale. They return to the colony and dance the distance and direction to a possible new home location. Each scout tells a different story. Then, the ENTIRE colony discusses the pros and cons of future home sites. When they are in agreement they leave to their new home.

When in swarm a honeybee colony is at its most docile. The bees are not defending honey or brood and their stomachs are full.

If you see a swarm sitting on your favorite rose bush, simply wait a bit while the bees discuss future colony locations. Tell them you appreciate their work as pollinators of the many foods you enjoy. And if you see a swarm feel free to contact your local bee keeper, they maybe interested in giving your swarm a new home

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