Swarm Season

A swarm of honey bees on the bottom of a rope swing.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.

by Engrid Winslow

Have you ever spotted a honey bee swarm on the eaves of your house, a fence post or in a tree? They have even been spotted on parked bicycles! Swarming is the natural result of a hive that has made it through the winter and ramps up for spring when pollen is available and nectar flows begin. The hive gets crowded and the bees raise a second queen and the older queen leaves the hive with about half of the hive population to find a new place to nest.

You SHOULD NOT do any of the following things:
1. Please don’t spray them with water or insecticides. We need to protect these pollinators, not harm them.
2. No need to worry about them attacking you. These bees are very docile and are just hanging out while scout members of the new colony are looking for a place to call home.
3. Don’t try to capture them unless you are an experienced beekeeper as you could harm the bees or lose the queen in the process.

Here’s what you CAN (and should) do:
1. Let someone know the location of the swarm. If your neighbor is a beekeeper it might even be their hive that swarmed.
2. Contact local beekeeper’s associations in your area. Many already have a swarm hotline up and running at this time of year.
3. If you can’t find a beekeeper, then call your local county extension agent.
4. Take photos! A bee swarm is an interesting phenomenon and you might not see one again for a long time.

Care and Planting of Seedlings

by Engrid WinslowArugula seedlings.

If you purchased seedlings such as vegetables or annual herbs and flowers there are a few things that you have to keep in mind. They are way too tender to be planted outside unless they are “hardened off” and if they came from a nursery or greenhouse that has definitely not happened yet. Here are some guidelines to follow:

• Place them in a spot indoors where they can get at least ten hours of sun or use grow lights to keep them healthy.
• Move them outdoors gradually so they are exposed to sun and wind over a week to ten days (This is what is known as hardening off).
• Start slowly when temperatures are above 60 degrees and only leave them in the sun for 1-2 hours. Then move them into the shade if the temperatures continue to be mild enough.
• Increase the amount of sunshine each day and gradually expose them to more sun in 2-hour increments each day.
• Be aware of the last frost date in your area. Don’t plant until after that date and be prepared to cover them if the weather gets cold and snowy.
• Don’t forget to check your seedlings at least once a day for signs of wilting and water them well. Small pots with new seedlings can get dry very quickly.