Thursday, May 7, 2009

10,000 New Babies!

I've kept an extra bee hive set aside in the hopes that one day I might try to capture a swarm. I honestly figured we'd never use it for anything more than a dust gatherer in the barn, but I got a call about a swarm yesterday. Just around the corner.

"Stella! Want to go get into something?"



The swarm was about 14-16 feet in the air, hanging just off the side of the road. I pulled the truck bed under it, set up a ladder and Jane, Stella and I stared at it just long enough for the first neighbor to show up. Two fearless high school guys. Just what we needed!

I wish we'd had a video camera running or at very least had the camera out. Brandon climbed up on the ladder, I handed him my fancy swarm catchin' cardboard box, he clunked the limb onto the top edge of the box, most of the bees fell into the box textbook style and the rest of them lit into us. We scattered like the LED firework sheep ;-).



Here are the bees we left behind. I'm not sure what happens to them (they left soon after) and I'm sorry we weren't able to get them, but we figured we'd had enough excitement for one day. Hopefully they found a hollow tree or something?

So, now we've got 'em. How do we get them in the hive? For these next pictures, keep in mind that this was our first time to gather and hive a swarm. If you more experienced beekeepers are out there scratching your head, trying to figure out what we were doing, we were temporarily snafu-ed by the fact that our box was smaller than the hive body and we were worried about a bunch of angry bees coming out from the sides when we turned it over.

Interestingly, they were pretty cranky out in the tree - they'd been there at least 2 days and it had rained like crazy on them all morning and early afternoon. However, by the time we got them up the road to Jane's, where we wanted to set the hive, they had calmed down considerably. We didn't know that though and were trying to figure out a safe way to get them from the box into the hive - hence the sheet (Don't spend too much time trying to figure it out).

Eventually we got up our nerve to just uncover the box, turn it over and hope that the bees did the right thing. And they did. And we finally remembered we had a camera with us.



Here I'm trying to ease the inner cover down onto the big mound of bees as they work their way down into the hive body.



There were some stragglers out on the sheet and on a piece of extra cardboard. I set the cardboard up to the hive entrance and sure enough they just walked right in and it wasn't long before all the bees from the sheet were in as well.



We'd removed a couple of middle frames so they'd have some extra room to get into the hive. I was impressed that they didn't seem to mind when I scooted them all over and slid those frames back in.

At the end of the day, I think we were all very impressed with the whole event. We learned a lot that we can hopefully use again at some point in the future. The bees seemed happy to be out of the weather and sipping on some sugar syrup. There is no guarantee a swarm will stay where you put it, but hopefully they'll like their new home next to a beautiful stone wall in an old cemetery on a big farm in central Kentucky with lush alfalfa fields, vegetable and flower gardens, clover patches, fresh water and good company.

17 comments:

Dianne said...

Way to go! That was quite a feat and I'm impressed no end that you pulled it off.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I just learned a whole bunch from your short post; I had no idea one could harvest a swarm of bees like that! I hope they stay in the hive for you. You didn't mention getting any stings....

Ed said...

I'm impressed, I don't run from a bee but a whole swarm...

Denise said...

What a coincidence. Just yesterday I ran into a beekeeper. I've wanted to try my hand at raising bees, so may give it go one of these days now that I have found a mentor.

I'm just loving Keebs and Graham!
denise (a KY woman but transplanted in Kansas)

VioletSky said...

I had no idea one could do such a thing.

But, erm, no face mask, netting, or Hanzat suit??

thecrazysheeplady said...

Okay, okay! I'm wearing my suit next time. I did get one sting - on my face. I'm so beautiful today you all couldn't stand it ;-).

flowerweaver said...

Impressive!

Dana and Daisy said...

My FIL was a bee keeper. I don't know what fears a person must stare in the face to do it!

Anonymous said...

I am amazed! The bees you captured may go get their fellows in the tree and say 'Come look see what we found!' and the ones in the tree might just move in to those nice dry digs. Oh what fun!

Does them staying depend on where the queen bee is? It seems I read that somewhere.

I don't know much about bees. My fist exposure to bee keeping was a poem by Sylvia Plath, and that was enough to give a girl a distaste of anything. Stick to happy bee stories.

Leah

Linda B. said...

We had an experienced beekeeper come harvest a swarm at our place a while back. It was amazing to watch him. It was also an experience to go feed livestock walking through a swarm. The bees would hit me, but never did sting.

Jenny Glen said...

I am SOOOO glad that you did this AFTER my visit. I would have to have hid in the house!

Peacecat said...

What bees or other beings wouldn't be happy in your idyllic setting? Well done! My kids were rapt and I read your narrative to them. What an adventure!

Karen B. said...

What a great post-I had no idea that could be done, that's incredible! And only one sting...

DayPhoto said...

We once had a swarm attached to our house. There was an old, old gentleman who lived down the lane *probably my age now* who raised bees and placed hives around the farm for farmers.

We called him, he came up, walked right up to the swarm, turned his back to the swarm, wiggled himself into the swarm, they swarmed onto HIM, every last one of them. He just stood there until the whole buzzing group was attached.

He talked to us about his process and methods, asked Terry to take him home. Hopped into the back of the pickup truck and took the bees home. (He later came back and got his old truck).

It stuck in my head forever. A bee whisperer.

You have now entered into that world of bee whisperers. WOW!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

thecrazysheeplady said...

That's a great story! Thanks for sharing!!! :-D

Kathy said...

Oh, Wow! I'm a beekeeper as well! Just don't have any hives since my back surgery. :( I miss having bees - just not the Africanized ones we have to deal with here. I've even watched an Africanized swarm attack one of my hives to take it over. Incredible to watch, but sad in that it happened.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Wow back atcha, Kathy!

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