Beekeeping – A Relaxing Swarm
Whilst Morgan and I were out on our geocaching walk on Tuesday I received a phonecall from someone at a nearby up-market hotel. They had a swarm of bees and wanted to know what they could do about it. I obviously offered to go around and collect them later that evening.
It was all a bit of a rush by the time Morgan and I returned from geocaching. Anna came home from work, but I hadn’t had time to cook any dinner. Morgan and Anna had to be back in Aberystwyth to play in the Silver Band at 7pm and I had to head off to collect the swarm. We couldn’t work out a way to all go in one car though so I loaded up my car with the beekeeping equipment and we drove in convoy into Aberystwyth where we had a fast food dinner. I then drove the short way out to the hotel where I meet the owner who showed me the swarm.
The swarm was on the post of some decking and had apparently been there since Friday. That’s 5 days fully exposed to what had been some pretty atrocious weather. Saturday had been quite a nice day but Sunday and Monday had seen a full on storm with strong winds and driving rain. Tuesday had at least been mainly dry, but once again windy and as I arrived to collect the swarm there was quite a downpour too.
Due to the nature of their location I obviously couldn’t shake them into a nuc box so instead I placed the nuc box on the railing above the swarm. I sprayed the frames inside the box with some sugar syrup and left them to it. Within seconds bees were beginning to enter the box and cluster around the entrance. I left them like that for a while and chatted to the hotel owner for a bit and then a few of the staff. I soon grew impatient of waiting for the bees to crawl into the box though and kept spotting the queen in amongst the writhing mass on the decking post. I therefore donned my suit and gloves and decided to scoop her up and place her in the box myself.
This was actually quite easy to do and I hoped that with the queen in the box the other bees would soon follow. That wasn’t quite the case though as moments later I saw the queen back outside the box and in amongst the main mass of the swarm again. Once again I collected her and gently placed her inside the nuc box. Once again she almost immediately crawled out as I saw her yet again on the post.
It was getting quite late now so slightly more drastic action was required. This time rather than targeting the queen and putting her in the box I started scooping up handfuls of bees and putting them all in the box. After about 10 large double handfuls most of the swarm was in the box and I left them to settle down. That seemed to have done the trick as now they were all streaming into the box and the number of bees outside was dwindling. Yet again though I spotted the queen still outside the box and in amongst the now quite small cluster of bees around the entrance. I left them to it this time as they were still going into the box. I sat there watching them and especially watching the queen still roaming around outside the box as the number of bees around her continued to dwindle.
I have to say it was actually quite a relaxing evening. It was quite chilly with a stiff breeze and the occasional drop of rain, but the view out across the hotel grounds and the valley beyond was quite tranquil. It’s rare that I get to just hang around for a few hours on my own watching bees do their thing. There was no rush, no work to do, just me, the bees and the view, with the occasional cup of coffee from the hotel staff.
As dusk approached there were now about 50 bees on the front of the nuc box, one of which was still the queen. The final few stragglers were going inside though and all looked calm. Eventually, with about 20 bees left to go, the queen herself wandered into the box and crawled off into the darkness. The final few bees followed her in and I was able to block up the entrance, strap up the box and put it in the car ready to take it back to our apiary where hopefully they’ll remain in the box and start building up into a nice new colony for us.
Quite a nice way to spend an evening really, relaxing in the hotel grounds and collecting some free bees.