They were way too well-behaved.
Swarm 4 May 2015
It was a nice day, beautiful in fact, but… I have been having my seasonal allergies, plus I think I’ve done something to my back, and well my husband persuaded me to attempt to watch our first box set in one sitting (we failed, well, because we are adults and do have some shame–apologies to all you adults without shame out there). These are my excuses and I am sticking to them. And yes, I am among those lazy beekeepers mentioned recently in the press.
While we were inside indulging in our indolence, the bees took the opportunity to cook up a bit of mischief on their own. I had looked at them earlier in the day (I swear I did!) and they looked no busier than they usually are. A few hours later (well, maybe more than a few), I looked at them again, and they seemed to be very quiet, which I thought was a little suspicious. Guess I was right because my husband came inside immediately after: “I think there’s a swarm!” I actually questioned whether it was one of ours and replied, “I just looked at them. I didn’t seem like anything was going on…” That’s because I was looking at the aftermath. What we saw at the end of the driveway was the eventual fly-off to their new home. They had initially swarmed, while we were all unaware inside, to their usual spot in one of our trees at the end of the driveway. When we eventually emerged outside, they decided to make their move to their new destination. As is their usual want when they set up initially in that tree, they regrouped in the air, and made their way slowly across the field to some destination in the village. It is with some sense of awe that I watch them do this, a tornado-like cloud moving over the field.
But that wasn’t all
Swarm 2 15 May
This one was interesting, as I was standing in front of the hive watching them and thinking about opening them up to see the aftermath of the first swarm. They were calmly going in and out of the box, buzzing, but not so as to imply anything was afoot. When all of a sudden it was as if a switch had been flicked, and their little bodies started to vibrate and the buzzing grew into a roar…
It was not only not possible for us to collect them, because of the height, but also quite dangerous as they were right on a busy road just beyond a blind corner.
At this point we were kind of despairing of replacing the hive we lost over the winter.
Third time lucky
As luck would have it, a second cast decided to make its move about an hour before we were expecting dinner guests. This time, they were much more accommodating, settling into a fir in our front yard, not too high up, although dispersed among a few branches. We elected they biggest clump as the one likely to have the queen, and started sawing branches and dropping them into a box, the quickly moving them into a nuc which we placed on top of a nearby car.
The signs were not that encouraging that we actually had the queen, so we sawed off a few more clumps. This seemed to make them a bit grumpy, so we left them to it checking periodically to see whether they were heading into the nuc or back into the tree. After waving our guests off, we checked again. It was pretty obvious that they had all headed back into the tree, the single bee left in the nuc being the give away. It was getting pretty late, almost dark. I was for letting things be, as it was also getting colder and rain had been forecasted for the next few days. However, my husband wanted one last try at it. Success at last!
We now had a box full of bees. The next day was rainy and cold, so we didn’t dare try to transfer them into the nuc. But even though yesterday wasn’t much better, we decided to make the best of the little sunshine we had, and get them into the nuc. The results: bees happily in their new (for now) home. Which is where they had best stay if they know what’s good for them…
As I don’t want them showing me up…
In the headline recently:
This article in the Guardian has created a bit of a buzz (see what I did there?) among the beekeeping community, as one might imagine. (see the British Beekeeping Association’s Facebook page for an example). I’m saying nothing.
Another article caught my eye which maintained that bees are ‘doing democracy the right way‘. Interesting until I came across this:
Seeley himself has found in the collective decision-making of the bees a metaphor and inspiration for democracy. Yet the bee system is far from the simple one-individual, one-vote set-up so popular among humans. If it were, there would be no way for Bee X who has discovered a particularly attractive source of pollen to convince fellow bees that his source truly deserves extra attention. Thus, it is the total passion of the bees, not simply numbers alone (one mandible, one vote) that ultimately carries the day.
Exit, pursued by a bee…..