It’s been quite a weekend. My plans were simple, lay flooring like a good husband then locate and probably kill one queen ( i did try to find her a home first ) enabling me to merge two colonies and reverse this creeping hive syndrome.
The flooring was going well, stylish black slate stuff for the kitchen but in amongst the sawing and swearing I could have sworn I’d heard a tapping at the door several times. Eventually my other half came up with a radical solution to this persistent knocking – try opening the front door.
“The neighbours said you might know something about bees, there’s a swarm”
Oh crap, what have the little bastards been up to this time?
The people at the door were quite calm and concerned that the bees didn’t get hurt; lovely couple, if they weren’t moving to Worcester we might have invited them round for dinner, they look like they type that appreciate a new slate floor. So first job, check our bees. All queens accounted for more or less ( more on that story later ). They’re not our bees!
Round to the house to assess, it’s the same bloody tree as ours used and very high up. Also it’s the largest swarm I’ve ever seen – more bees I’d wager than any of my colonies. Tell the nice couple that they’re not our bees but we’ll handle it.
We’re out of our depth on this one – too high, too many bees and I’ve nowhere to house them. This job requires the professional touch of the Swarm Coordinator. Armed with a ladder and a long handled net John arrives and after a couple of hours with my help ( by which I mean I stood there gawping ) we utterly failed to get them and it was getting dark. With bee box perched on the ladder in the hope they might do the job themselves things were left until morning.
Overnight the bees didn’t capture themselves but they did have the decency to move to a slightly more accessible branch. Cold mornings make bees more docile and with John’s new tool, a fifteen foot long lopper we managed to get the lot down in several batches. They’re not my bees at least.
Now where was I? Oh yes, I was supposed to be doing the floor. What was that knocking?
“Hi, the neighbours have got a swarm”
They’re not our bees! But we’ll deal with them
Smaller batch this time and just off the ground on a wall, easy job so suited up and with the nice couple videoing everything on their phones we just swept them into a box gave them a couple of hours to settle and walked off with them. Carry the box back telling anyone I pass that they’re not my bees.
Back to my own hives, the one that swarmed a few weeks ago had been left undisturbed so the virgin queen had a chance to hatch, mate and start laying. When I checked the colony I found two torn down queen cells – the heir and the spare and a rash of new and empty cells. Nobody’s laying which means the queen is dead or at least failed to return from her mating flight.
If only someone had a spare queen and a collection of workers to shore up the hive…….
I’m having that bloody swarm. You can’t just throw bees into a hive, they’ll fight. For the moment they’re growling at each other through a sheet of newspaper, sooner or later they’ll start chewing through it and by the time they’re done they should have forgotten what they were arguing about and be all happy and huggy. That’s the theory anyway.
Did I mention that they’re not my bees?
Well they are now……..