Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 03/15/2019

It’s swarm season again!

By Thea Vierling, beekeeper
Kenwood residents (left to right) Lynn Koch, Kristina Torres and Thea Vierling construct a swarm trap with Ming Quan and instructor Darrell Jones. 
Yes, once again, this is the time of year when honeybees are preparing to swarm. The mother hive becomes too populated, therefore half the bees organize and leave, along with the queen, to make a new hive. Swarming is actually one of the ways that honeybees reproduce. One beehive can swarm many times in a season and each new swarm is important because many do not survive. The swarming season starts more or less in March and runs through June. There are early swarms and later swarms, but the peak swarm season in Sonoma County is in April.

swarm trap
What are your local beekeepers doing to prepare for the swarm season? East county beekeeping coordinators Susan Simmons, Kristina Torres, and Lauri Dorman organized a workshop on “Making and Setting Swarm Traps.” There are many types of swarm traps. Even an empty carton can be used. When honeybees swarm they are looking for a “perfect” place to set up their new hive. Of course, a perfect place would be in a large hole in a tree, but many trees were lost in the fire, or have been cut down over the years because of development or because they are diseased or too old, bees may use something else. Unfortunately, if swarms cannot find a trap or a tree, they might choose a small hole in your house, which is great for them but not for you. There are a lot of holes in and around a fireplace, which is a frequent location found by scouts for their swarming group. If they end up in your house, you will have to call an extractor who will charge a fee to remove the bees. Beekeepers do not charge to remove a swarm if it is hanging in a tree, a bush, on a bicycle, playground equipment, a BBQ, an automobile, a cyclone fence, or any number of places around your home.

Bee swarms send out scouts to find the perfect place and, hopefully, they will choose swarm traps. Swarms often go back to the same places year after year. That is called “genetic memory” which is an amazing trait in many animals. Keep an eye out for our swarm traps.

This winter in our east county community of beekeepers, we have experienced severe losses of our managed hives. The beekeeping community has discussed all the possible reasons, but some of the more obvious ones are starvation, queen loss, extreme cold weather, lack of drones (males) and weeks of rain. January is always a very tough time for honeybees because they need the warmth for their young (eggs and larva) to survive. The hive population is at the lowest of any other time during the entire year. Especially in January, the small existing population has a difficult time maintaining the required temperature of 94 degrees, which eggs and larva need to survive. When the nighttime temperatures get down to 28 degrees several nights in a row, it is very difficult for a small hive to maintain that temperature. They often run out of food or even if they have plenty of honey, they cannot access it because they do not have enough heat to soften it.

We expect that there will be fewer swarms this year than we have had in prior years because of hive losses. We are counting on all of you to help us find swarms. Keep your eyes peeled for a large group of bees hanging on trees, bushes, or other objects. Report swarms to us so we can help them find a home. If you know of a place that gets swarms every year, let us know and we might be able to hang a swarm trap there. Here are some local beekeepers who will respond to your calls:

Thea Vierling - (707) 483-0426

Susan Simmons- (925) 408-4529

Lynn Koch - (571) 332-5655

Lauri Dorman - (707) 859-5798

Darrell Jones - (707) 799-6382

Mato Herzog - (650) 773-2384

Recently Published:

04/15/2019 - Dunbar melodrama set for May – can you help?
04/15/2019 - Oakmont honors its premier volunteers
04/15/2019 - Oakmont golf courses officially on the market
04/15/2019 - Three-year deal struck for planning SDC’s future
04/15/2019 - Water, warning issues subjects at community meeting
04/15/2019 - GE residents sound off on downtown building design
04/15/2019 - Ask and (hopefully) ye shall receive…
04/15/2019 - Oakmont re-elects its board of directors
04/01/2019 - Hood Mountain Regional Park expands with latest acquisition
04/01/2019 - Not if, but when
04/01/2019 - Signs of Spring
04/01/2019 - Pull out the French broom
04/01/2019 - Civil Grand Jury applicants sought
04/01/2019 - Oakmont East Rec reopens May 1
04/01/2019 - Focus is on wells as groundwater board does its research
04/01/2019 - Mountain lion kittens born in Trione-Annadel
04/01/2019 - Bike and Pedestrian board seeks new member from District 1
04/01/2019 - Advance healthcare workshops in Sonoma
04/01/2019 - Registration open for summer camps
03/15/2019 - What’s next for Oakmont golf?
03/15/2019 - Defining winery guidelines still on county’s radar
03/15/2019 - County offers housing help on several levels
03/15/2019 - David Cook jumps into District 1 race
03/15/2019 - SVCAC worried about water for cannabis project
03/15/2019 - You can do local radio!

Community Calendar

Temple stay
Be part of a bioblitz
JL Yacht Club reveals racing boats
Volunteer training at Jack London State Historic Park
Jack to Jack yacht race
Wildflower walk and hike
Morning walk in the garden
Headwaters to Headwaters: A Mayacamas Hike Extravaganza
Sunday Symposium goes to the dogs
Family Adventure Day
Botany walk

Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2