As of this writing, I think we have finally come through the swarm season. However, I thought that at the beginning of June, only to have the following, which I had drafted in mid-June happen. I was just too weary of it all to publish another instalment of what was beginning to feel like a swarm-dedicated blog. Also, this particular swarm was caught by our friend, Tony, on camera, which is why the snaps look so professional. I had more than enough good photos to choose from which took a bit of time….
What happened in mid-June….
Was this a Friday the 13th joke? Can a swarm swarm? Or are they just having a laugh? Because the primary cast from these pesky garage bees, collected over a month ago into a nuc, transferred two weeks ago into a brood box definitely looked liked they were swarming this morning. This wasn’t robbing; they made their way as one up to the very top of our very tall pine tree, well out of our reach (thank God!).
Within an hour, that thunderdrome noise as if they were on the move. But I was distracted as we were having a load of tiles delivered, so all I really saw was some traffic on the face of their brood box that looked suspiciously like unswarming. Quickly peace reigned.
Once we finished unpacking and making sure that the tiles were all in one piece, got our suits on and opened the hive to add a super. Not only did the box not look overly crowded, but the new frames we had given them were not completely filled. So what gives?
At any rate, I weary of the blame game, either them or us. As I said we added a super, but actually it’s “and a half” as we did not have a spare queen excluder. Maybe if this queen is really eggy this might give her a bit of roaming space.
But They Were Determined to Swarm and Determined to Be Caught….
as that following weekend, just when our friends, Jo and Tony, were leaving after a cheesy dinner (that was, a dinner of cheese, bead, salad etc, the result of us going on a binge of cheese buying in the week), we spied a swarm right above the greenhouse. We looked at the other hives which were trying to look as innocent as possible. So, was this a swarm from one of ours? Or a swarm of foreigners? Who knows? Anyway, I immediately called the lady who had wanted some bees last time, only to have them disappear. Yay! She still wanted them.
So we trudged on out with the suits….
It actually felt like I went to bee school at the end of June. Actually, I gave a beekeeping presentation to one of the local primary schools–50 Year Ones (First Grade) and 50 Year Sixes (5th-6th Grades). It was really a lot of fun; informative for both sides, as I learned a lot just by giving the presentation: why are bees yellow and black? How do they mate? Why is comb hexagonal? Of course, it’s not the kind of thing you could do on a regular basis as the equipment alone takes up a lot of space and time: observation hive (lucky to have one lent to me); nuc; nuc made out of cardboard; smoker, frames in various phases, honey comb with crystallized honey in it; beekeeping hats; hive tool; beesuit and boots; beekeeper. Just transporting the observation hive was nerve-wracking enough.
What did the kids take away from it? Judging by their letters: that bees mated in mid-air (the Year Sixes were learning about sex-not from me, but in another class, so they loved this fact. See for yourself here); that honeycomb is sticky; the difference between wasps, honeybees, and bumblebees (and why, when a bee lands on your arm, you shouldn’t let your brother repeatedly throw a ball at it). Oh, and they liked my accent; various attempts at guessing where I was from included Canada, Australia, and Scotland? Ah, does Scotland already sound like a foreign language….
Next Post: Birds, birds, and more birds. We are up to our eyeballs in baby birds here. And they are not shy about making incursions into the conservatory and even into the house in pursuit of worms. Just so long as they, like the bees, know who is boss….