April 16, 2016
While I was in Hagerstown, the hubster almost ran face first into a low hanging swarm of bees while push mowing the lawn. I pulled in the driveway a bit later to a very anxious hubster, “Get out of the car…quickly and gear up, We have a swarm.” We’ve had swarms before, but they’ve always made a bee-line (pun intended) for the highest branch in the tallest tree, making it impossible to retrieve them. But THIS time they were conveniently located on an outside bush about 5 feet high. Yay!.
Preparing for Capture
Full credit to the hubster, he had the box ready, the tarp in place, the branch clippers in hand, and he finally suited up in the gear I bought for him last year. The only thing I had left to do was prepare the actual hive, soon to bee their new home. Luckily I had just cleaned out Green Hive the night before (kismet you say? Perhaps!). With Green Hive in place, I pulled out several frames in the center to leave space for dumping the bees, and left the entrance wide open. No entrance reducer.
I geared up, head to toe, and we carefully scoped out the swarm. It wasn’t a huge swarm, and since the hubster didn’t see it happen, he questions whether it came from one of my hives. I won’t know until I inpect the hives, and even then I still may not know unless I can see a noticeable difference in the number of bees. Hopefully they’re free bees from someone else’s hive. Goodness knows other hives have benefited from my past losses. But back on topic…
The Capture – Play by Play
The Hubster trimmed around the branches so we could get in and cut the cluster out of the bushes without disturbing them. The box was at the ready. A few snips and I carefully lifted the cluster out of the bushes and shook them into the box. The hubster closed the box and quickly carried them over to Green Hive. I grabbed the branch that held the remaining bees and followed. I shook the branch of bees into the hive, then took the box from the hubster and gave it quick whack to knock the bees down to the bottom of the box, then I tilted it sideways and gave another quick whack to condense them into a corner of the box. I opened the top, turned it upside down and dumped them in, followed by a few shakes to empty out the slackers. I was pretty certain we had the queen, but the only way to know is to watch the bees. The bees will stay with the queen. I placed the box and branch outside the hive. Any bees the didn’t make it into the hive would go in themselves if the queen is present. Of course, with all the excitement, there were lots of bees flying around, we left them alone and revisited the location where we found the cluster. The bees left behind flew amuck. They confused and wondered where their colony had gone. They clustered in the location where the queen’s scent remained, but within a half an hour, the area had cleared out, so we knew the queen hadn’t been left behind.
I prepared a bucket of sugar syrup, added it to Green Hive and left the entrance open. Bees were entering the hive, a very good sign. Tomorrow I’ll inspect the other hives. In the meantime, I’m getting boxes and frames ready for the other hives, to make sure they have empty frames for building comb, that the queen has plenty of space to lay brood, and that they have honey stores so I can stop feeding them syrup. We still have a few weeks before adding the honey supers. That happens when clover begins to pop.
I think it’s safe to say that bee season is here, we’ve had our first successful swarm capture, and Green Hive back in business. A good way to start the weekend, indeed.