A quick heads-up to local beekeepers:
Swarms are beginning to appear in Oxfordshire, following an (unseasonal) run of fine weather. For example, today one of my hives swarmed. It settled conveniently at head height a few feet away, so I put it in a box and carried it off to an empty Top Bar Hive at the local allotments. I’m in North Oxfordshire, and in previous years our microclimate has been a couple of weeks behind the heat island of Oxford, and south Oxfordshire.
I’m surprised the colony swarmed, because it wasn’t a huge colony and there was plenty of room for it to expand its brood area (downwards into an empty box). However, it may have decided the recent run of fine weather, coupled with lots of forage with the Spring blossom, was its best chance to reproduce so – go for it!
The hive that swarmed is the one that had the highest mite drop (see previous post). This swarming will give the colony a brood break, because its fertile queen has left, which will hammer the mite population.
Despite being a prime swarm, it was tiny – I reckon just 2,000 to 3,000 bees. It settled on, of all things, a glass wasp trap which perhaps felt nice and warm. This gave the appearance of a sizeable cluster of bees, but they’re only a couple of layers thick. When transferring them I had to shake some out from inside the trap.