The Easiest Swarm Ever
Having not left Ynyslas for about 2 months now, we were unsure whether or not to head off to catch a swarm of bees when the phone call came in last night. It wasn’t far away though and the person whose garden it was in was shielding so there shouldn’t be any unnecessary human contact. With the coronavirus risks minimised we decided that I should go for it. We told them we’d leave it until the evening so I set off after dinner with my beekeeping kit in the hope of collecting some new bees.
The house was easy to find and the swarm was there in a nice big cluster a couple of feet off the ground in a privet hedge. I’d forgotten my smoker but was pretty sure I could manage without so I was soon kitted up.
With a nuc box positioned below the swarm I started cutting out part of the hedge with my secateurs. I managed to cut out the entire section containing the swarm in one big clump. This allowed me to pick it all up in one go, put it above the nuc box and with one big shake the whole thing fell into the box. A few stragglers fell to one side so I positioned the two frames that I had taken out of the nuc box on either side of the box and balanced the top cover on these so as to cover the main box but leaving a little gap for bees to crawl into. Others were making their way in through the entrance and within a few minutes all of the bees were happily tucked away in the nuc box.
I gently replaced the frames, sealed up the box, popped it in the car and headed home. The whole procedure only took about 30 minutes, and that inculded 10 minutes driving there and 10 minutes driving back!
Back at home I decided that it was quite a big swarm and probably a little too big to keep squashed into the nuc box, especially considering the temperatures at the moment. So, I quickly set up a new hive in the apiary and transferred them to that. Let’s hope the stay there. They might not of course as quite often a swarm will decide to head off elsewhere anyway, but I’ve given them some sugar syrup, they have a nice comfortable hive to stay in and there should be no reason for them to leave. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but we’ll have to wait and see.
I’m just going to leave them to it for a while and then will check on them sometime next week. I did have a quick look from outside the hive just now and there were certainly lots of bees buzzing about. That would be expected as they should be out doing orientation flights to work out where they are and to make sure that they can get back to the hive from foraging flights.
The apiary is getting a little crowded now so I might have to think twice about how to perform an artificial swarm on our larger colony. No doubt it will be starting to show signs of swarming soon as there were quite a few bees in it when I checked on them earlier in the week. The hive closest to the camera in the photo above is currently empty whereas the one at the far left is the one with the swarm in it. Things are a little too close together at the moment so I shall move the empty one a little before putting anything in it, but there isn’t much room left – We’re gonna need a bigger garden! Actually, that won’t be the plan even if the bees behave themselves this summer and do well (which I’m sure they won’t) as there just isn’t enough food around here to sustain more than 2-3 colonies so we don’t want to ‘make increase’ too much. Free bees from a decent swarm are always hard to resist though.