I’m sat here on the train and my pocket is buzzing quite loudly, it soundslike I’ve been for an early bird special at Ann Summers but I’ve actually got a pocket full of bees.
Bees have an odd sense of mathematics, for bees to multiply they have to divide – which is why where I had two hives six weeks ago, I now have four. This situation is not a tenable one – I think my wife might not like the garden being taken over by humming boxes for long and I may start getting frosty stares from the neighbours, besides I’ve run out of bee kit.
I need to reduce my number of hives, going from four to two requires addition – I have to add two hives together, twice if I can get my head around it.
The trouble is the queens – they won’t share and I have four of them. Four into two simply doesn’t go in the bee world. A couple of them must go.
The swarm I purloined last week has just settled in and their queen is feeling comfortable enough to lay eggs but I only wanted her for her bees. I’d rather have my own queen heading that hive – I paid good money for her and I’ve grown rather fond of her. I’d quite like her daughter to be in charge next year.
The simple way to deal with this is just to kill off the unwanted monarch – but that feels a little heartless, plus I know someone in need of a queen so she’s got a chance to live out her days in exile – once I’ve moved her.
First catch your queen.
Queen bees are very distinctive – except when they’re hanging around with ten thousand worker bees hellbent on protecting her identify and making life difficult for the apiarist. They don’t come naturally with a green spot of paint – someone has to add that later. One day I might cross bees with fire-flies just to make queens easier to find.
I did find her though – after only a couple of minutes and I prepared to deploy a cunning device I’d heard so much about –The Crown of Thorns. The theory is simple – just place it over the queen and gently push, spikes stick into wax, queen is restrained. Yeh, right – in reality you get few tiny impaled bodies and the queen mysteriously vanishes, sorry about that bees but most of you were drones…
I found her again two frames on and failed again, by this point the bees were getting a bit cheesed off so I decided to give it a rest.
Yesterday evening I returned for round 2 – I gave up on technology in favour of our natural ape appendages and just picked her up – it actually worked first time. I dropped her into an improvised cage, threw in some workers for good measure and hung her in the hive to stay nice and warm until the morning’s journey to work. A flawless victory
Flawless-ish. I was very worried about making sure the queen could get enough air. See all those holes – they’re too small for her to get through, but not too small for the workers to get in – and they did in large numbers, desperate to be with their queen.
Which is why I have a very buzzy pocket at the moment. Luckily trains are quite noisy – or people are too polite to say anything and are wondering what I’m up to.
In all the excitement last time I forgot to update the sting count. Collecting that swarm got me a few – Numbers 25 and 26 went to bees that got into my left trouser pocket, another on the ankle and two on the wrist making 29. Attempting to see why my bees were upset – without bothering to suit up got me one on the face. This morning – one on the back of the knee – holes in jeans are tempting to bees, sting count 31. My wonderful wife opened a hive yesterday with a veil but short sleeves and a skirt – stings, none; go figure….