Sometimes it seems that bees know just when I’m wearing a dress and heels or when we have ice-cream in the back of the car after a grocery run — they just know when to make swarming more of a challenge for us. Then I have to think back on the swarm that moved into an empty NUC while I was checking bees last fall to realize that maybe we just remember the inconvenient swarms better!
This swarm initially looked like 4 smaller swarms, but it turned into one of the biggest swarms we’ve had. We last inspected the hive on Sunday. They had barely started working the honey super and we made a split to give the queen open frames to lay fresh brood, but by Friday they had the honey super about 30% full, multiple frames had hatched, and they were still storing nectar in the brood boxes. Even with the bees in the trees, the hive was still rocking it! The nectar flow is good this year, and we need to recheck some other strong hives again as soon as the coffee kicks in this morning.
The swarm was pretty high up in a pine tree, so it took some brainstorming, which included discarding crazy ideas while building upon them, to get the branch down. We even very briefly considered chopping the tree down! Hubby managed to drop the swarm right onto the tarp we’d laid down with multiple boxes on it. We’d baited all of them with Swarm Commander and I’d put a frame with nectar, brood, and bees from the original hive in the 10-frame. After they’d recovered from the fall, they started pagenting in to the 10-frame and one of the NUCs. Some of them returned the tree, just higher up than before. They spent the night out there, but they are still alive and kicking!
After a while, we shook the remaining bees from the tarp into the 10-frame and just crossed our fingers. Now that’s it’s warmed up, bees are migrating down from the tree to the two capture-hives. Of course, we won’t know for a few days whether they are just regrouping in preparation of another escape attempt or happy in their new home, but we consider this capture a success, an adventure, and a wonderful example of how well Hubby and I work together.
We both took one sting each (for swarming bees they were relatively well-mannered) and the anti-itch salve I made from a Beeswax Alchemy recipe worked wonders. It was the first time we’d been able to try it on a bee sting — I’ve wanted to know if it works for a long time, but not enough to intentionally get stung. I’m not so sure that the soap I tried last week is turning out as well, but it is the most complex soap recipe I’ve tried yet. More about soaps, lotions, and salves next blog….