Swarm season

So, lately, I have been anxiously staring into trees as I drive hoping to see a swarm of bees.  Not that I really need one.  I made a split on April 2 because my main hive looked so incredibly crowded I was worried about swarming (heh) even though I didn’t see any swarm cells.

Today was my day to check on the split.  I had read that any closed queen cells on day 7 should be destroyed because they were potentially weak queens who might kill the later, stronger ones.  I went out to take a peek and saw a lot of activity around my main hive.  Then I noticed that there were a number of bees lined up on top of the fence.  Are they looking for a water source, I wondered?  They were right above the, admittedly filthy, birdbath, so that couldn’t be it.  Oh, wait……I grabbed the nearest mirror, held it over the fence and saw this:

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A swarm.  In my neighbor’s yard….I knocked but nobody was home, so I’ll be leaving a nice note about how my bees swarmed and it’s really a good thing, honest, and I let myself into your backyard and that’s why there’s a box of bees back there and I’ll come get it later tonight and, oh, yes, here’s a nice jar of honey. *sigh*

I grabbed the nearest bucket and a strainer net to cover the top.  My bee brush managed to scoop most of the gals off the fence.  I just had to hope the queen was with them.  Covered the bucket mostly with the net and back to the house to find a proper box.

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And, of course, this is the point at which I realize that my gear really isn’t ready.  I planned to keep the split in my other top bar hive and house any swarm in a foundationless Langsgtroth.  I have the boxes built & painted but only about 15 frames made and none of them painted with wax to make it smell all nice & homey.  It also gives them a guide to build straight comb.  So, now I’m throwing together some beeswax in a double-boiler, and lugging the hive into the kitchen.  Worst part of Langstroths is they’re so cumbersome.

Wax done, I head back out to the yard only to find a bunch of really confused bees.  Apparently I did catch the queen because all the bees left on the fence headed straight for the bucket.  Enough to collapse the nice netting I left over it.  They can smell her, but can’t touch her.

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I manage to carefully extricate the net (oh, yeah, just imagine sticking your hand into a bucket of bees) and dump them into the nice new beehive.  Let’s hope the queen made the second transfer okay and they all happily join her. I’ll let you know tonight.

IMG_4604I did check on the split, finally, and saw one closed queen cell.  But, man, I just can’t bring myself to squish it.  Bleeding heart for the bees, you know.  I am going to email my mentor, though, and see what she thinks.  Didn’t open the main hive as they’re super active in the sunshine at the moment–and if it is the hive that threw the swarm, they’re probably not up for company right now, anyway.

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