The willows have offered the last of their pollen to the dancing bee-fairies of spring; we are getting ready for the coming season. As a wise man once said, “there are no problems, only opportunities in disguise”, and we too are looking toward the 2013 season with great hope for excellent opportunities! In 2011, many beekeepers had an issue of losing their beautiful queens to the act of swarming, and with that we have come to build a wonderful opportunity. The Plan Bee Swarm Catchers Group, through the Community Hive (http://chat.thecommunityhive.org to join). Here is some basic information about why bees swarm and why the group exists, its goals, and how to get involved!

Why Bees Swarm…

Honeybees, like ants and termites, are considered super-organisms. This means that although the colony is made up of many individuals, none of the individuals can survive without the comradery of one another. The queen, workers and drones each have their job, and each job is essential for the survival of the colony. The swarm of bees occurs for many reasons, not enough space is the most common reason, and when it does happen, it is the equivalent of a colony of bees giving birth to another colony. Leaving the hive in this swarm is the mother of the bees from the initial hive, some her loyal workers, and some drones in a massive, incredible, engagingly powerful performance. They leave the ‘parent hive’  looking for new nesting grounds, and in the parent hive they just left, grows a new queen, hatching out young sister bees eager to usher her in to the culture of the hive and ensure her safety in her mating flight and new role as new mother of the colony. All of this is done through the true interdependence, constant plebiscites, and instantaneous communication of the colony…. lol…. much like our society works right? Well, in a community with the Hive Mentality it does!

Why Plan Bee exists…

So, here is why Plan Bee Swarm Catchers Group was created… remember my comment about problems = opportunities? Here are some opportunities in disguise that we are looking forward to:

Seeming Problem: Most of the public is unaware or uneducated about the miracle and fascinatingly beautiful part of the honeybee lifecycle that includes swarming and can potentially become irrationally afraid of the spectacle!

Opportunity! When we catch the swarms, we can educated, answer questions about bees, and become mentors to the community about honeybee health and the challenges facing honeybees and abate fears about the danger of the bees by being supportive and sympathetic to the concerns of the individuals.

Seeming Problem: We catch swarms, but who is to get the bees after they are caught? Do we charge for the capture of bees? How do we organize ourselves so that the bees go to a great home and are cared for in a respectful and loving way?

Opportunity! We organize a group that has tools set up to make 3-1-1, police, fire, and general Google inquiries come to us, and have these same tools help you and other bee-enthusiasts gain access to these bees, seek mentors in helping capture swarms, and find homes for the bees after you have caught them!

Goals of the group…

Our goals are simple: to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of this year, and to do everything in our power as responsible urban beekeepers to be publicly accessible educators, mentors, and ambassadors for the honeybee! So here are our Core Values and Rules for participation: “As a member of Plan Bee Swarm Catchers Group, you are offering a community service to the Calgary community of beekeepers. It is important that you understand that as a swarm catcher, you are a representative to the public on behalf of all other beekeepers in Calgary, and therefore you must be respectful, answer questions, and offer a positive attitude toward beekeeping. Also as member of Plan Bee, you cannot sell the bees to the new beekeepers. You must either give them away or you can trade-in-kind with the recipient. All participants in the Plan Bee Group revoke all liability to The Community Hive and its members in the access to the swarm information and any participants of mentorship and or the equipment shared (ex. Ladders, boxes, vehicles etc.).

How to get involved…

Plan Bee Swarm Catchers Group will be making some changes to the www.thecommunityhive.org homepage in the next week or so to accommodate the group and allow for public access in sending information on swarm locations to the group, as well as offer photos of bees and swarms being caught, a FAQ page, and a hotline number to reach the swarm catchers group directly! If you would like to participate in helping get the group moving, participate in the capture of swarms, or hiving a swarm this summer in Central Alberta, please do the following:

A) FIRST! Go to http://chat.thecommunityhive.org and ask to join the free chartroom. Then, once a member, ask to join the Swarm Catchers group on the chat room site.

B) Keep posted on the chat room site for the TBA location of the following event:

Plan Bee Swarm Catchers Group  Meeting

April 25th, 2013

Location TBA

Register here to attend

Action items for the evening!

Organize committees to make sure the season flows well!

Make work groups for:

Moderators for the Community Hive Chat Room (CHCR) group, Plan-Bee

Email account review and access, looking at emails and placing the information on the CHCR

Contacting Garden Centres with information about the group

Contacting 9-1-1, fire and police with information

Contacting 3-1-1

Create group for fliers or cards for public distribution for members to have on hand?

Hope to see you there, both online and at the event!

1Comment
  • Tom Foss
    Posted at 19:26h, 29 May Reply

    Bruce, thanks for the call on Saturday. Sorry to interupt your course with a swarm question. They are all caught and hopefully they are happy in their new hive. Appreciate your thoughts and concern. Wish I could have been there for the course.

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