Wednesday, April 17, 2013
And Then, They Swarmed
I had been wondering for weeks if this might happen. Indeed it did. Just a reminder that I am still a new beekeeper and these are bees are still very mysterious. I had noticed before that large amounts of bees were sitting on the front of the hive. I thought perhaps they were feeling crowded with the new brood hatching so I added another super. Then I thought they were new bees. New bees often stay close to the hive, buzzing around in a cloud and landing near the entrance. I am cautious of opening the hive too often so I decided to leave them and hope they would settle.
Today I looked out my window and there was a cloud of bees. I knew they were swarming and I couldn't stop them. I was so disappointed. I quickly took out my bee books, watched YouTube videos, scanned blogs, searching for a solution. I had worked so hard to build a healthy hive, these bees were important to me, I felt crushed by the idea that I might lose so many of them.
Almost as if he knew, Jon came home early today and set to work helping me capture the swarm. They swarmed in a terrible place, it was almost inaccessible. My Jon, such a wonderful man, went for it anyways. The first time he tried simply brushing the swarm into a box, sadly as he was closing the lid he dropped the box (and I was at the base, supporting the ladder, and got stung by some very angry bees). We waited and they returned to the tree. This time he cut the whole branch, carried it down and shook all the bees into a box. This time he was stung by bees who managed to get into his coat. By the time we had the syrup made, the hive assembled and the frames in place all the bees had escaped the box.
The final time seemed the easiest (of course it wasn't me up there). Once again Jon brushed the swarm into the box, successfully carried it down and dumped all the bees into a waiting hive. Of course not all the bees made it into the box and we noticed a few of them gathering in the tree again but after several hours the hive seems to be humming with bees. We are hoping that the bees in the tree will get the message from the bees in the hive that there is food and protection near by and join them in the hive tomorrow.
Such an amazing learning experience but also so stressful. Questioning why this happened? Is the queen ok? Is the first hive's queen still alive? Will they stay in the hive? Will they make it? Jon says he feels "pumped" after spending an afternoon wrangling bees. He called himself "the bee master" and although neither of us completely know what we are doing, we are taking each lesson these bees offer us and hopefully becoming better guardians of these colonies. I'll keep you all posted on these hives.