Friday, July 17, 2009

The Bees Knees

Stella called the other night "Hey, you want to get into something?"

"Um, maybe." (I'm not quite as good a friend ;-)

"There's a bee swarm just up the road."

"Oh, okay. Call over there in the morning and see if it's still there. If it is, I'll see if we have enough parts to put together another hive."

8:00 a.m. the next day, "It's still there."

"Okay, I'll pick you up in a few minutes."

I feel sort of like the ghost busters movie when we get these calls. This is the third swarm we've heard about this year and I'm getting pretty good at throwing my equipment together. This swarm was about a mile and a half away and just six feet up in an easily accessible tree. A gift.

We decided to try the white sheet method and see if we could talk the bees into just walking right in. We set the hive box a few feet away from the tree, draped a white sheet from the tree to the front of the hive and then I scooped up a cupful of bees and dumped them into the the top. I took another scoop and dumped them in the front. A few headed in the opening!

That went so well I scooped up some more bees, dumped them on the sheet and next thing you know, they were all marching in. Textbook style. A couple ratchet straps to hold it together and some paper to block the entrance/exit and down the road we all went.

Amazing, eh?

(We switched bottom boards when we got home - that's the old one leaning in front to give the stragglers a ramp back in.)

We put this hive up at Stella's, behind her cute little red yard barn that her grandson Jason built last year. She's read some of my favorite bee books (A Book of Bees, A Country Year, The Secret Life of Bees) and is looking forward to cooking (sugar syrup) for thousands of new hungry mouths.


melanie said...

How cool! So, where was the queen in all of this? Did you see her? Do you think she was in the firs few cups of bees, so that is why everyone else was so willing to walk right in? (Or were they just so impressed with the new decor that they ran to take occupancy?) Did you just knock the rest of them down onto the sheet?And how long did it take to get them all to walk in?

Joan said...

That is really fascinating! Could you do a "Bees for Dummies" post on WHY a swarm of bees would be haphazardly clinging to a tree branch in some inconspicuous area? I'm not understanding the "swarm of bees" thing. LOL :D

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

The bee-thing is very interesting. I passed my Country Year on to a friend who has been beekeeping for years, thought he'd enjoy it.

Now, why were you sleeping in the barn?

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Amazing, yes! I learn so much from you!

DayPhoto said...

This was really neat! And I'm glad it was a textbook case. Thank you for the video. you girls are bee whisperers!


sandra said...

That is so neat! I can't wait to show my kids your photos. I know nothing about bees, btw.

flowerweaver said...

It's obvious bees love your neck of the woods in Kentucky and being rescued by you! I'm glad Stella has some bees now. I hear they go with red barns really well. LOL.

VioletSky said...

That was amazing. Somehow I expected the video to be noisier and turned the sound way up - but no, they just quietly walked in. Okay, so, I need a Bees For Dummies post too, have no idea about the swarming.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I don't know why we always sang 'the ants go marching'. It should be the bees are marching :)

Ed said...

I was going to ask if the queen was in the first couple of cups since the rest just went on in. Fascinating, just facinating..:-)

Denise said...

How cool is that! I like the sound of Stella :-) wish I had a neighbor that adventurous. Congratulations on finding a good home for the bees.

I think this qualifies you as a bee whisperer now! You are really good at creating a nice home for the winged ones. That is special!

Dana and Daisy said...

that is just freaky! Do you ever wonder who was the first guy to say, hey I think I'll try to capture all these bees so I can harvest their honey?

ya'll are much braver than I am.

just a couple of handfuls of bees huh?

with all my flowers and the bees I've been seeing, there must be a big hive around me somewhere, but I don't know where it is! that's okay, I don't need to know ha ha!

I need orange said...

Amazing is right! I would never in a million years have guessed they would just walk right in like that!

Peruby said...

Truly, utterly amazing. I have not heard of the white sheet method. Like a couple of commenters before me, I wondered if you had scooped the queen bee also.

We had bees removed about 15 years ago. The guy who came out to get them discovered we had 2 queens and 2 hives hanging off of the back of our house.

Someone up the road from us had cut down a huge, very old tree where the bees had lived for years probably.

When they lose their home they have no choice but to move on until they find another home. These were fortunate to have you and Stella nearby.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great video. I love bees.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

This is so cool. Have never seen this before.

Do honey bees build a nest in the ground? I have some bees nesting under a bush in the side yard and they look like honey bees not yellowjackets. I know yellowjackets will nest in the ground but I didn't know HB's would. Can I leave them there? I like having them around or should I get a bee keeper and move them?
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Thanks~ ~Ahrisha~ ~
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

thecrazysheeplady said...

Here's what I found out about the swarm's bee-havior.

Bees do not like to be out in the open. So, when they "found" the dark, comfy box, that was exactly what they were looking for.

The queen was most likely not in that first group of bees, but once they swarm, she's no longer in charge anyway. The scout bees looking for the new home are.

So far, so good up at Stella's bee yard. Swarms don't always stay where you put them, but they'd be crazy to leave Stella's good care. We'll keep you posted.

WildBlack said...

When I got back, I've been expecting some interesting stories in your blog! This one is an amazing one! But the bees and robbers was the most amazing story I ever read. :D This one was more of an informative one and I loved it too! Thanks for the info! Nice pics too. Well bonded as always! :)


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