Yesterday the kids and I were outside working on the garden (they were actually on the slip and slide). All of a sudden Ethan told me to look at the bees. They were going crazy in a huge tornado-like swarm. I knew right away they had to be swarming because we had already known they might since they had been building swarm cells. So, we immediately called for help. A local beekeeper walked us through what to do and headed to our house with a new hive and his equipment. Within 10 minutes the whole swarm of bees was in a tight cluster on the branch of a pine tree, about 30 feet high! Chad got out the hose and got them wet. That is supposed to give you some more time because it makes it harder for them to fly off. After about 30 minutes, however, the cluster broke up and they started swarming around the yard really low. Then they headed back to their hive! We were then able to look for the queen and split the colony and make it two hives. Hopefully everything was done right and we now have 5 hives. We'll get less honey this year but next year we will have a whole extra hive. Swarms are supposed to be much stronger than packages of bees as well. It was such an exciting and educational experience!
I found this post very informative as to why bees swarm.
This is the cluster of bees up in the tree. It's hard to see, but, it was about the size of two footballs.
This is after they had started trying to go back into the hive.
In the center you can see an empty queen cell. They look like a big peanut.
This is a frame from the brood box that looked great.
In the upper corner you can see another queen cell.
We also learned from some mistakes we've been making unknowingly. We ruined a few frames because we had too much space between them. We also switched to foundationless frames for several reasons. They drew out the comb beautifully except for they were all drone cells. So, we're going to give them a starter strip of foundation to guide them.
This is the new hive.
Here is a video of when they started to swarm and go into the tree.