Lesson learned: Wear a bee suit when handling a swarm
My beehive is bursting at the seams! It has always been a very productive hive, and last year threw out several swarms. In order to limit it, rather than killing the queen bee cells, which is the usual method, we added a second brood box. The bees were very quick to take occupation, but it still wasn’t enough. Yesterday, they threw out their first swarm.
We noticed the bees early afternoon. After spending a few minutes mesmerised by the buzzing and excited fluttering, the numbers in the air diminished. They were settling on a low growing hedge a couple of metres from the hive. Last year the swarm landed high up a tall tree, making it inaccessible, so this was good news.
Since they can depart at any moment time is of the essence. Doug was quick to find a cardboard box and his smoker, and very slowly, the bees crept into the box. This is the first time he’s used this method, so it was a nerve-wracking and exciting experience. Everything seemed to be going to plan, until he hit an unanticipated problem.
The swarm was quite large, probably fifteen to twenty thousand bees, and as they gathered in the box they caused it to topple. Bees were everywhere, and needless to say, they were not too pleased by Doug’s intervention. A few stings later, and now wearing a bee suit, he was back on the job. The bees had settled down; some were still in the box, and the others were on the hedge. He placed those in the box into a newly prepared hive and closed the roof. The others were still on a branch, so he snipped it off and shook them off at the entrance. Since the queen was inside, they all trundled in. Job done.
Today, they are building comb in their new home, and they seem perfectly happy. Rapeseed flowers are in abundance, so far as they were concerned it was a good time to swarm. I do believe they know what they are doing. Good work girls!