The bees they are a swarming!

Clettwr, the hive that I performed an artificial swarm on last week in an attempt to prevent them from swarming has – you’ve guessed it – swarmed today. So much for the artificial swarm, I obviously didn’t do it right.

Our neighbours phoned me just after 10am to say the bees were out and about in the garden. They had heard them from their garden and could see them flying about. I went out to investigate and it was clear that one of the hives had swarmed again. They looked as though they were going to settle on the pergola so I donned my beekeeping suit, got the smoker going just in case and got the plastic nuc box out to catch them, by which time they had disappeared and there was no sign of them.

Scouts were checking out the shed once again but I couldn’t find the swarm anywhere. I decided to check the hives whilst I had my suit on and it was clear that it was the colony in Clettwr that had swarmed. There were very few bees in there and no sign of the queen. There was a solitary queen cell though so I left that as they will need something to re-queen with.

I checked the other hive, Leri, while I was at it. This hive is hopefully in the process of re-queening after we lost a swarm from it a couple of weeks ago. All was as to be expected in here, a little quiet but it now has more bees than Clettwr, no sign of the queen and no new eggs as yet.

I packed up and got back to work only to get a phone call from another neighbour saying they could see what looked to them like a huge swarm of bees clustered on a branch in the field out the back. I once again donned my suit, grabbed a pair of loppers and set off with my plastic nuc box to catch them. There was indeed a big cluster of bees and before long I was over the fence and into the field and had most of the bees into the box. It’s all a learning process and next time I’ll take a sheet with me to put under the box because some of the bees inevitably fell into the long grass around the box and while I was watching them I spotted the queen. Typically she was in the long grass, not the box where I wanted her. I tried to get her in but she flew as I did so. Hopefully into the box, but I can’t be sure.

So, we now have to decide what to do with this swarm. We have the original hive which is depleted in numbers but does have a queen cell. We have a nuc that we made from this hive which also has a queen cell in it (and maybe a virgin queen by now?). We also have todays swarm from the hive in a separate nuc box, which hopefully has the original queen in it. We’ve pretty much run out of equipment to house all the separate spin off colonies from this hive and we will at some point merge them all, but when and how and what do we do in the meantime? These bees are certainly giving us the run around.

We do also have the other colony (Leri) which is still hopefully in the process of re-queening. If that doesn’t happen and we’ve lost the queen from Clettwr then our options are becoming more limited. All hopes of honey have gone for this year (not that we really had any hope in the first place). All we want are healthy colonies with queens that don’t want to swarm and plenty of bees so that they can build up some stores for the winter. It’s going to be a while before any of them settle down though so it’s unlikely that they’ll start building any significant stores for a few weeks yet.¬†Oh for a nice happy, queen-right colony!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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