Bees · Hive equipment

A Sweet Reward

Swarm

Today was one of those awful days that ended a rather stressful work week followed by a text from hubby to remind me to get the oil changed in my car on the way home.   Geeeesh … didn’t he know I wasn’t in the mood to do that.  Or maybe he knew I was even less in the mood to have to ask him to take the car in for me.  Either way, surprise number one was that I do indeed have a cabin air filter in my car.  We’ve been told multiple times that I don’t, and the dust keeps piling up on the dash and the air conditioner blows warm air at the rate of a soft summer breeze.   Now the air from the vents almost blows my hair back out of my face!

Surprise number two was even better.  I made my usual evening walk around the yard and said hello to all my bee-buddies.  On the way back to the house, I noticed that the Major Wheeler Honeysuckle had new blooms on it.  That thing hasn’t stopped flowering all winter, but it is now adding buds like crazy — or was before we chopped a whole lot of it off about an hour ago.  While I was walking toward the fence to admire the flowers, I noticed something odd.  That something odd turned out to be a swarm of bees.

Swarm in the lattice

Swarms can be really good because they add genetic lines to the exiting apiary.   They are also good simply because they make me happy!  There were as many, if not more, bees behind the lattice as in front of it and almost all are now tucked away safe and warm in their new home.   We have not yet found the queen, but the bees did start to pageant into the NUC after a while, which is normally a good sign.  Temperatures are supposed to drop to the low 30s tonight, so we’re glad we caught them when we did.

We bent the lattice back and cut many of the vines to get the bees out of there.  Some that started flying around settled in another clump in the middle of the next sheet of lattice while others hid behind the fence post.   We got what we could with a bee brush and smoke and then tried a bee-vac on the remaining couple of handfuls.   We’re still not sure about the bee-vac — some bees got tangled up in the felt that they are supposed to bounce against and some appeared stunned, cold, or dead.  While we hate to lose any bees, trying to get a handful out of a tight corner was a better experiment than trying to suck up a full swarm.   We’ll have to find some non-living things to test levels of air-flow with.
 
Still, a day full of annoyances turned out to be an incredibly wonderful day after all.  This is the second swarm we have caught in two weeks — one just moved into the queen castle while we weren’t looking and started setting up house.   Our bees at the farm were bouncing back after their fight with the hive beetles last weekend, and we’ll soon have some more hives to take down there.  

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