We had an exciting swarm day at the apiary yesterday. You can see here that a swarm landed on the trunk of a small pear tree not far from the apiary. Tuesday was the first sunny day after several days of rain and that it often when a colony intent on swarming will make its escape.
We lucked out with this one, since it wasn't high off the ground, making it somewhat easy to coax into a new hive box.
Below you can see the bees beginning to march into the box that Robert set beside the swarm. We saw the queen (though not quickly enough to get a photo of her!), and once the bees could tell that the queen was in the box, they began to march in and take possession.
A swarm is the way that honey bees reproduce their colonies. The old queen from the mother colony leaves with the swarm--usually about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bees in the mother colony. They leave behind several swarm cells where a new queen will emerge to carry on.
The photo on the right was taken about an hour after we saw the queen go into the box. You can see here that there are no more bees on the pear tree trunk. They've headed inside to get used to their new home.