Saturday, 21 June 2014

10.5 hours beekeeping..... the longest day.

It can' be much fun to arrive home from work and find one neighbour has poked a note through the door to tell your wife's bees have swarmed and then get into the house  and  find the other neighbour has left a voice mail to tell you;
"hey, guess what?  your wife's bees have swarmed and they're up the tallest tree in our garden..."

There's really only one thing to do....fetch a supervising neighbour and go and play at being Tarzan....



By the time I got home from work it was all far too late to do anything other than leave them in a box overnight.
The following morning they were all really rather buzzy in their box....really rather noisily busy...


I'm not as nervous as I look .....honest!...well not quite


So the simple job here is unwrap the box, peel away the gaffer tape and gently tip the bees out of the box into the hive...


So easy to say....so not easy to do when the box weighs a rather wobbly 6 or 7 pounds.... this is a BIG swarm!



Look they are so happy in the box they've started stringing and making wax (silly bees)
So ...no more gentle tipping...
Turn the box upside down and firmly shake...



I suppose he who climbed the tree should have the honour of tipping the last ones in....


Look .....what a lot of bees...

 

So its just a case of popping on the cover board and roof and they are safely snug and home....


Time to have a thorough look through the hive that they came from.
The Swarm should contain an old queen, she leaves the hive having laid at least one replacement daughter (princess), the workers will have extended that cell, packed it with brood food and 5 days later they will seal the queen cell to allow the new queen to pupate from a super large grub.
Normally the first new queen to hatch will actually kill any others that haven't hatched so she has no competition to take over the hive.  However if she misses one the second hatching princess can generate another smaller swarm, usually called a caste.  
I'm very conscious that y neighbours are super supportive and I don't want to cheese them off so task number one is to find any excess queen cells and break them down before they hatch.  Leaving just 2
An Heir(ess) and one spare...

So what's going on in hive number 2?

Well they've certainly been building queen cells... and is that someone polishing the inside or caring for a very precious grub?


Ah...I see now....its a tiny grub, probably only just a day or so old....


There are other ones...already nearly big enough to fill the queen cell...


Others are still just an egg....


But Big or small, sealed or unsealed, all but two get torn down.
And yes, the ones with grubs in get given back to the bees.... all that soft tissue will make a great high protein snack for young bees... Very little ever goes to waste in a hive...

 

 

So safe in the knowledge that I'd spent a very rewarding morning ( 3 hours in all) and taken all the right emergency actions, I did a quick kit check and realised I could do with some more frames to keep my ever growing colonies less inclined to swarm by giving them new frames.  So off I went to the Apiary to see the practical class and to do some shopping....

Two hours of happy bee keeping later I came home to a rather strange buzzing noise in the garden...
A rather loud buzzing noise....
In fact an incredibly loud buzzing noise...
The door bell rang and a neighbour appears...
"Do you know your bees are swarming again in the garden..."

Can you see the dark undersides of the clouds?


They're not part of the clouds!
They're bees!!!!!

Hang on ....I'll get a bit closer....


I can't actually believe I've NEVER seen this happen before.  But this is a prime swarm, in all its primeness.  The sound is incredible.  No wonder people get really alarmed by it.......
 hang on they're swarming this way....

And then of course they settled down.  All that swirling mass of energy was over in less than 10 minutes as the swarm settled in next door's tree.
Right near the top....
Pretty much the exact same place they settled last year...
There was an enormous sense of deja vu about the next half hour....
The A team readied themselves...


The Bee team sat in the tree waiting....( I swear I could hear someone giggling...)


And in the battle of man vs. bees... the bees finished up in the box....



They then sat in the shade in their box for the next three hours....whilst I rapidly made some new frames to give them something to sit on when we got them into the hive...
Whilst I checked the hive they'd been in some six hours earlier.  it was completely empty.... not a bee to be found....
Come 7pm we decided to try to use bee psychology to get them in the hive.  rather than tipping them in we decided to run them in on a board.  The theory is that if they've "chosen" to go into the hive.. they are more likely to stay... 


So prop a board up gainst the hive entrance and simply shake the bees onto it ....and hope they run for home...
First shake....


Second shake....


Third shake...


And they're off.....


Its an amazing sight.....somewhere in the region of 30,000 bees all running into their new home....


Its a tad chaotic in places... 


Sometimes there are more bees under the board than on it...


Can there be a more AMAZING sight in bee keeping?

video

After about 15 minutes the crowd thins out... and  the last few stragglers make the run...


video

I love the way that a couple of them made a bridge, presumably to make it easier for all their sisters to run over them....

 

Anyway 20 minutes after being chucked out of their box they are all safely in hive.... now if they could just stay there this time... we'd all be a lot happier!

EDIT: So they first made a break for it about 2pm Friday, then again about 2pm Saturday both times settling in a neighbours tree and being brought back to a new hive in the garden.  By 12 noon Sunday they'd gone again! last seen heading in the direction of the local golf course.....so long....and good luck out there.....

1 comment:

  1. Helen - your neighbours are saints; this bee behaviour is fascinating, but when you ran your hand over the board (with protective gear as hubby points out) my stomach did a flip and is still churning.

    Better you than me without a doubt!!! Am trying to find some sea grape honey for you.

    ReplyDelete

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