By Carter DeJong
Spring has sprung and the bees at Unity Gardens have begun working hard to bring you Honey from the Hood and your favorite beeswax candles and hand-balms. Recently, our bees have been “swarming”. This occurs when the space inside the hive becomes too limited for the bees and they must find a more suitable area to live.
To initiate a swarm, the older queen will leave the hive with about 50 to 60 percent of the worker bees so that they can start a new hive. They will gather at a nearby area to swarm. In this case it was an apple tree branch in the garden. Next, scout bees will be sent to search for a suitable place for a new hive. Once the drone bees report back, the queen will then lead them to the new area.
Swarming is also the primary method bees use to reproduce. While swarming, the bees are not very aggressive as they are not defending their hive and they are full of honey.
In the picture shown above, our beekeeper, Tim Ives of Ives Hives, looks for queen bees that can be used to start new hives. From this particular swarm, Tim found five or six queens.
All of the bees at Unity Gardens are raised without giving them any sugar. Tim’s method involves leaving enough honey for the bees to eat so that they do not need to be fed anything else. Most commercial beekeepers feed their bees sugar so that they can get more honey from them. Unity Gardens Honey from the Hood is made completely naturally and is not pasteurized. Currently it is available in three flavors: fall blend, raspberry blossom, and the award winning South Bend Wildflower. Honey from the Hood is sold at the South Bend and Mishawaka farmers markets.