COLUMN: Bountiful spring for bees

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It’s been a bumper year for honeybees, at least if the number of bee swarms reported over the past several weeks is any indication.

More than a dozen swarms have been reported and local beekeepers have worked hard to help by gathering in swarms and providing them new homes.

I can’t claim to understand the inner workings of beehives and the various roles castes in each hive – drones, queens, etc. – but I’ve been told as new queens hatch in the spring – the queens rule the hive – some of the bees in a hive will often set off to establish new ones.

After leaving the original hive, bees will find a place to swarm, often around branches in a tree. Sometimes the swarm is close to the ground and within reach.

Other bee swarms are high up in trees, requiring beekeepers to use ladders to reach the black masses of bees, sometimes weighing several pounds.

With the early spring, bees have swarmed earlier than usual, said Bill Gibson, who has collected several swarms of bees. One brood was collected close to Zoercher-Gillick Funeral Home in late March after Tell City Police Cpl. Marty Haughee received a call. Gibson has since been summoned to other swarms.

Swarming season may be close to wrapping up with the early spring we’ve had, but if anyone sees a swam, Bill and Glenda Gibson are interested in gathering them and ensuring them good homes. The couple can be reached at 836-4344 or 719-2239.

A good year for bees will hopefully make for a good year for honey and other crops that rely on bees for pollination.

Walking through the hayfields this spring, I’ve seen plenty of clover in bloom and I suspect the early spring had plenty of blossoms to feed on. That’s also a good sign.

I wonder if the birds are doing as well as the bees?