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Beekeeping, Honey Bees, Queens, Swarms

Of Swarms and Inspections 2014: Good God, Will It Ever End? (Part 5)

Saturday 31st

We had gone out on various errands, one of them picking up the makings of another hive to transfer our primary cast of a month ago from its probably overcrowded digs in the nuc to a more spacious des res (we do not want a third hive, we do not want a third hive….). Happy that we would now have the ability to combine hives towards the end of the summer, we pulled into the drive and opened the gate to the back garden.

Meanwhile, a little over a month ago, a housing meeting had just started

“Now, I have called this meeting to discuss the current overcrowding in this place and what we are going to do about it.”

“Well, we’ve already started on a solution,” said one bee, looking around to make sure she wasn’t overheard by anyone not at the meeting (namely anyone of regal bearing). “I mean queen cells,” she said in a loud whisper.

“Woa, there, hold your horses, before all hell breaks loose with a bunch of queens flying about, we got to have a plan of where we are going to go,” said the chair, one of the bossier bees.

“I thought that was our job?” whined a scout bee sitting among her colleagues.

“Yes, but the past few years, you guys have settled us so high up that those lazy, non-flying bipeds can’t be bothered to get us and find us some of those luxurious new-builds we’ve been hearing about. We’ve heard rumors of bees ending up in stuffy chimneys and then set alight…” Everyone bowed their antennae out of respect for fallen comrades. “This year, we gotta make it easier for them. Now, if you all take a copy of these locations, and you scouts, see if you can get us there, we should be basking on the landing board of a one down, the-sky’s-the- limit up in the matter of a month!”

The meeting ends in a buzz of excitement.

Meanwhile, Saturday

You may have to enlarge this to just make out the clump in the tree....

You may have to enlarge this to just make out the clump in the tree….

We were considerably deflated by the sight and sound that welcomed us home. Up in the holly tree between the conservatory and the garage, was the tell-tale noisy clump. We looked at each other, and I said, “uh uh, no way, they are on their own this time, they are too high anyway.” My husband replied “Well, they are not that high really, I could probably get them with the tall loppers. Mind, it will be a pretty big ker-plop when the branch falls into the box.” And we both knew who would be holding the box.

“No, no way. Anyway, we don’t have any more cardboard boxes left. And what are we going to do with them? WE ARE NOT HAVING A FOURTH HIVE!”

Upon which proclamation, we retreated into the conservatory.

Meanwhile, back in the holly tree…

“Abort, Abort! They are not going for it! Where are those scouts? I thought I told you some place easy?”

“This is as easy as can be! All they had to do was come out the back door and chop off a branch. You heard the tall, lazy one. He’s not the problem, it’s the short, lazy one!”

“Can I suggest something?” said the very young queen….

Meanwhile, back in the conservatory….

In the middle of consoling ourselves with some subs while watching the bees, I noticed something odd. “Is it my imagination or does it seem like that clump in the holly tree is beginning to move down to the fern at the bottom of the holly tree, in other words they are now on the ground?” Sure enough, they were starting to clump around a branch of one of the ferns.

They  were leaving us no choice...

They were leaving us no choice…

“Well, er, we really should catch them, it would seem impolite not to…” my husband said.


As the tree clump gets smaller, the fern clump gets bigger...

As the tree clump gets smaller, the fern clump gets bigger…

Meanwhile, back at the fern,,,,

Look, they are going for it! They got a box!”

“OK, but just in case they get put off at the last moment, let’s make it a bit easier….”

Meanwhile, back at the conservatory….

We suited up, found a box ( I was wrong. We never do not have at least one empty cardboard box). We looked down at the fern. “It seems like they are on the ground, leading up into the fern. What if we just lay the box on its side and see if they just walk in instead of cutting up the fern?”

“Sounds good to me. We got to get these other bees into this brood box, so let’s do that, make the transfer and then come back to see what they have done.”

And that’s what we did.

Meanwhile, back at the box and fern….

Wow, I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Listen, I have spent a long time observing them. You see all these birds? It all started off with one who groomed them. It’s not rocket science. I mean, they don’t even fly!”

“This is much easier then being plunked into a box, Now we can just walk in as and when….”

They are all on one side because that is the side they crawled in, er, on...

They are all on one side because that is the side they crawled in, er, on…

And that’s what they did.

Next morning….

“Hey, smart aleck! Why are we still in this manky box? What happened to the palace you said we would get if we made everything easy for them?”

Hey, where's our nice new build home?

Hey, where’s our nice new build home?

“Give them some time. Usually they get us a new home pretty quickly. Fly around, smell the flowers. Visit the fern. Remember the fern?”

“Are you kidding? Those bees back at the old place are rolling on the hive floor laughing (rohfl) at us! We’re living in a box! There’s nothing to grip onto man, I’m blowing this joint!”

“Hey, wait you guys, GUYS WAIT!”

Meanwhile, back in the conservatory….

“Um, can you come take a look at the box? Something’s not quite right…”

We go over to where we had placed the box in the morning. We could hear the wind blowing the tumbleweeds from way off. We opened the top. Nothing. We looked at the garage bees who had produced this third swarm. They were looking busy, but not so busy as to have had a re-intake. Could the swarm have unswarmed? Could they have gone off to a new place? Were they even our bees?

I went to call the nice lady with the empty hive who was waiting for her delivery of bees the next morning.

And now we wait….










12 thoughts on “Of Swarms and Inspections 2014: Good God, Will It Ever End? (Part 5)

  1. This post was really fantastic. I live the bees side of the story and have often wondered what they are thinking. They must have a plan to move. Sorry you’re having so many swarming issues though. It’s been an unusual year.

    Posted by lizard100 | June 3, 2014, 1:23 pm
  2. Thanks for sharing! Just started beekeeping, no swarms yet 🙂

    Posted by Jen @ Honeychick Homestead | June 4, 2014, 5:35 am
    • Congratulations! It really is more enjoyable than I make it out to be! Even swarms can be exciting, especially when you are standing right in the middle of them buzzing around, or watching them as one move into the nuclear following the queen. I could go on!

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | June 4, 2014, 8:05 am
  3. I know what you mean about swarms. Sometimes we are afraid to walk out to the garden if we’ve been gone all day. I’ll walk one way, my wife walks the other way, and then report to each other. Last Sunday we found ANOTHER swarm, this time in another apple tree. Bee-atrice (my second log hive) was empty, so I carefully dropped the swarm into her…okay, it was a messy transfer. When I popped the branch to get them to drop into the bucket only about half of them fell. The branch was too big to cut, but luckily I must have gotten the queen because the rest of them followed in. Then I popped the bucket into the top of the log hive and again they clung on, this time to the plastic bucket. “Clinging bees.” They stayed in Bee-atrice long enough for me to think about posting some pictures and then left after a week. Arrrrrgh! Now they’re up in the Asian Pear tree…and that’s where they’re going to stay unless they “unswarm,” but I doubt if I’d be that lucky. When, oh when, will swarm season be over? I’ve lost count the number of swarms I’ve had, and that’s from only 3 hives. Now I have six!!! Good luck with your resolution to have less than four. 🙂

    Posted by solarbeez | June 4, 2014, 6:21 am
  4. I read this at work earlier today and was chuckling away to myself. Our bees never seem to work to the same plan as us, do they?!

    Posted by JimB | June 4, 2014, 10:19 pm
  5. Very entertaining! A shame they weren’t satisfied with their new home.

    Posted by Emily Heath | July 14, 2014, 9:38 pm

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