Earlier this month while on a survey for California gnatcatchers with my co-worker beekeeper friend, we received a text from another colleague regarding some bees that had taken up residence on a part of her fence. I had put off trying to start a colony again because we have been re-configuring the backyard and the landscaping won’t be done until this Fall, when it’s easier to keep new transplants alive than through the heat of summer. But I leapt at the opportunity to collect a swarm and try again to get a colony started.

We went to our colleague’s home that night where most of the bees had moved into a valve box, but a cluster remained on the ground surrounding a dead bee. We hypothesized that this was the queen because: 1) she was larger in size than the other bees and 2) when we scooped up the dead bee and moved it for a closer examination, the other surrounding bees flew around but when we put her back on the ground they all clustered around her again. We tested this a couple times to be sure that the clustering was related to the dead bee. So we placed the presumed dead queen into my hive and scooped as many of the bees as possible in there with her. Once we had most of them, we drove the hive to my house and set it in the backyard, ready to see what happened next.