Went to my first swarm call today! As a matter of fact, I've never actually seen a swarm before in my life! A supervisor from Washington United Terminals at the Port of Tacoma called and said a swarm landed around lunch time in their rail yard on one of the trains and had to be removed as soon as possible. It kind of made me nervous after hearing all the stories about weird bugs coming in on containers at these shipyards from overseas and thought it might be some kind of weird hornet or something.
But he was right, nice good ole honeybees hanging in a small (or so I thought) ball under the rail-car's frame. The bees looked very strange to me, a little larger than my Italians and half their abdomen black, the other half amber with one small black band half way to the thorax. Their faces are jet black and the thorax dark brown. I've only owned Italians which have usually been lighter in color, so this was a shock to me. As soon as these bees get used to their new home I'll take some pictures and hopefully you guys can help me identify what race they are.
The bees were extremely calm and quiet. Moving them from the train to a empty hive deep with drawn frames was a snap. I sprayed the frames with a little sugar syrup mixed with a dab of Honey-B-Healthy. Hardly any bees took to flight and the ones that did went right to the new home quickly. Not sure if I got the queen, I'm assuming I did since they seemed to take to their new home right away.
The only thing that went wrong was I forgot to tie the lid to the hive body and a dozen or so bees escaped in my van on the ride home.
They made it home safe and are taking syrup just fine. This swarm couldn't have come at a better time, after loosing three of my 5 hives due to bad weather. Can't wait to find out what kind they are.
Here's a pretty cool picture of the swarm in their new home (had to take it with my camera phone since I forgot to take my good camera). Not every day you see a hive on a railcar!