A Swarm to Remember
I was working bees in my yard north of Grundy Center
on June 5th. We had received close to 11 inches of rain during
the month of May and swarming had been a problem. During the early
evening of the previous day some of the hives had bees hanging
out the front in brown masses, so I thought I had better check
In the first hive I opened up, I found sealed queen
cells on the bottoms of some of the frames - never a good sign.
I usually destroy all the younger cells and leave a few of the
mature cells, once I'm convinced they did swarm. I'm usually convinced
if they are sealed, the old queen is gone. Once in a while I find
an exception. As I put the hive back together, I thought to myself,
"Another hive swarmed".
A moment later I looked up and almost straight above
my head in a cottonwood tree was a swarm, hanging off a limb about
20 feet above my head. They were about 3 or 4 gallons in volume.
I spent some time thinking what I should do. I decided to go back
home, get the camera, a bucket with a ball of baling twine in
it and a hammer.
Upon my return I took a picture of the swarm (it
was windy and probably not a good picture). It tied the hammer
to one end of the twine and proceeded to throw the hammer over
the limb with the swarm on it. I was hoping to catch the limb
with the claw on the hammer and shake the swarm and queen into
an open hive directly underneath the warm. Time went by and I
threw the hammer fifty times over the limb and there were about
50 little cottonwood limbs on the ground. Sometimes the hammer
caught and I pulled real hard and shook a few bees down, but never
very many. I felt defeated!
Some time later there was a cloud of bees surrounding
the apiary. I kept looking for another limb they would land on
or a fence post or something. Suddenly, I realized they were floating
to the ground and began to enter TWO hives. That's right! They
entered two hives. And not the hive I had been working. They flew
to the ground at the side of each hive and marched around to the
entrance in the front and went inside. This is something a picture
could never show since I would never get a good shot of both hives
In the 15 years I've been keeping bees I have never
seen anything like this, and I will most likely never see anything
like this again.
And I'm sure the horse in the adjoining pasture
got a good laugh.
Submitted by Tim Laughlin
Iowa State Horticultural Society Awards
Request for Nomination
The Iowa State Horticultural Society is seeking
nominations of deserving individuals for the Certificate of Merit
and Honor Award. Each year the Society recognizes those individuals
who go above and beyond the call of duty to promote and contribute
to horticulture in Iowa.
The Iowa State Horticultural Society Certificate of Merit goes
to individuals who have made a recognizable contribution and /or
have provided distinctive service. A personalized, framed certificate
is awarded and a biographical sketch is published in The Iowa
The Honor Award is presented to deserving individuals who have
made a "conspicuous and outstanding contribution" to
Iowa horticulture. The individual must have already received the
Society's Certificate of Merit and should have made significant
additional contributions to the field of horticulture. Their efforts
should be beyond the local level and/or span multiple aspects
of horticulture. The recipients receive an engraved bronze medallion
and a biographical sketch is published in The Iowa Horticulturist
Nomination forms can be obtained by calling Mary Jane Paez at
(515) 278-1170 or downloading from the Society's webpage at www.iowahort.org.
Nominations must include two letters of recommendation that are
at least a full page in length, giving details about the candidate’s
horticultural involvement, projects, and contributions. The nomination
form and letters of recommendation are due by August 15th and
should be sent to Mary Jane Paez, 6165 Crabapple Lane, Johnston,
Iowa 50131. Presentations will be made at the Society's Annual
Meeting on November 6th at the Iowa Arboretum near Luther, Iowa.