2018-09-06 / News

Beekeepers save honeybee swarm


LEFT: Conanicut Island Land Trust beekeepers Jim Turenne, left, and Dennis Breneiser trap honeybees into a hive after disrupting the swarm found on East Shore Road. LEFT: Conanicut Island Land Trust beekeepers Jim Turenne, left, and Dennis Breneiser trap honeybees into a hive after disrupting the swarm found on East Shore Road. The self-proclaimed swarm chasers from the Conanicut Island Land Trust have rescued their second cluster of honeybees this season, and the whole ordeal was caught on camera.

Donned in beekeeper suits and equipped with a broom, Jim Turenne and Dennis Breneiser responded to the call Aug. 25 on East Shore Road where an estimated 15,000 honeybees were buzzing on a maple tree.

“That’s a big one,” Breneiser says on arrival.

According to Turenne, swarms occur when a hive elects a new queen, forcing the former ruler to relocate. Despite her dethronement, she is followed by her loyal servants, which is about half of the worker bees from the colony.

In the four-minute video titled “Honeybee swarm August 2018,” which was uploaded onto the land trust’s YouTube account, Breneiser is standing on a ladder with a plastic container in his hands. That’s when Turenne swipes the swarm with the broom, trapping hundreds of honeybees. The men then retrieve their hive and release the swarm from the plastic container. Naturally, the bees flew right into their new home.


BELOW: The swarm was estimated to include 15,000 bees. The hive is now at Godena Farm. BELOW: The swarm was estimated to include 15,000 bees. The hive is now at Godena Farm. “They got their marching orders,” Turenne said. “They’re moving right in.”

This swarm is now the 11th hive at the Godena Farm apiary, which sells honey throughout the year.

“The hive is doing well at its new home,” Turenne said. “They need to now build up enough honey to get them through the winter, which will not be easy.”

After inspecting the hive, Turenne said the queen wasn’t marked, which indicates this swarm strayed from a feral colony, not a domesticated hive managed by beekeepers.

Although swarms are more common in the spring and early summer, Turenne said the swarm chasers are still on-call to save these valuable pollinators. Homeowners who spot a swarm on their properties can call the land trust at 255-6206. These swarm chasers, however, do not deal with clusters of wasps, Turenne said.

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