Friday, August 26, 2016

Stella's Big Birthday Surprise

"A swarm in May is worth a load of hay.  A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon.  A swarm in July, let it fly by!"  A swarm in late August?  Oh you know it...  Too Busy Bees is back in business.

It's very unusual for bees to swarm this late in the year.  It's probably a bad sign about the upcoming season(s).  Or maybe the bees are just as confused by this year's weather as we are. Or...maybe they heard Stella needed a strong hive to combine with her weak hive (a spring swarm we picked up that has struggled all summer) and flew in to surprise her for her birthday. 

In  reality, a swarm this late in the year has very, very little chance of making it through the winter. They just don't have time to get adequately prepared.  If anyone can get a late swarm through though, it's Stella.  The bees may have known that (as they probably originally swarmed out of one of her hives from a couple years ago) and knew what they needed to do.

We  backed The Unit under the branch.  I stood in the back and brushed most of the bees down into our swarm box.  Set the box on the roof (that Unit is darn handy!)...

...and before too long, the rest had all flown into the box.  You know you have the queen (the most important bee) when they all follow her into the box.  Remember that for later.

Taped up and ready to head for the bee yard.

This is usually the easiest part of the program.  See the empty spot in the middle of the hive box? All you have to do is take the tape off, turn the box over, dump the bees into the open spot, carefully slide in the missing frames, put the cover on and you are done.  

I missed the hole (the bees were all clustered on one side of the box) and dumped almost all of them onto the ground next to the hive.  
(Blurring out big girl words that aren't fit for a family friendly blog... ;-)
And then I got an apiary birthday gift as well!  I looked in the swarm box and saw the queen, still safe and sound and not buried in tall grass never to be found alive again.  WHEW!!!!  I carefully dumped her into the middle of the hive box...

...and everyone (probably at least a thousand or more bees) marched up the concrete blocks and into the hive.  And they did it so fast that I didn't even have time to get a decent video!

Almost all in.

Now they're really all in.

Stella fixed them some sugar syrup.

And we'll cross our fingers (and Stella will work her butt off keeping them fed all fall ;-). 

Then, to make our morning even better, the neighbor stopped by with his new puppy, Skipper.  

Quite the birthday week :-D.


Linda said...

Skipper! Too cute!
OK, Bees. Allergic. Not a big fan. But I completely understand their great importance in our world, so I'm very happy you and Stella have the equipment & knowledge to handle this situation. I would have run screaming which would most definitely not have been helpful.

Susan said...

OH GODDESS!!! That is most excellent! Happy Birthday Stella. I just love you two!!!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am allergic too! Good job girls and I hope Stella has good luck with the hive...we need all the bees we can have...around here they don't survive the crop spraying. Happy Birthday Stella!
That is one cute Border Collie puppy!!!! :)

Alice said...

I see that Stella literally celebrated her Birthday with a big "B"...... Or BEE!!!
Thank you for being such a devoted steward to our bees. Hope your day was sweet as honey!

LannieK said...

Happy BEE-Day Stella! I've always admired those keepers of bees ~ amazing! Keep us posted on their progress :-) And little Skipper is a cutie! A future sheep boss,I am certain.

Cheryl West said...

Thank you to both you and Stella for saving those bees.I hope that with all your knowledge and care you can get them through the winter. I planted a large patch of California poppies this year which turned out to be the best bee magnet ever in my garden.
Welcome to Skipper. What a sweetie!

I need orange said...

Hooray for saving bees, and for little puppies. An excellent birthday indeed!

Terry and Linda said...

You and Stella share a birthday week and a LOVE OF BEES! I loved this post! Every second of it...even held my breath until they all marched in the bee hive!


Shirley said...

Interesting! We had a couple of swarms here when we first moved in 7 years ago, it used to be a honey farm. I didn't get to see them capture the swarms though.
That puppy looks like a mini Kate! So so cute.

Kathy said...

Amazing! So many talented and knowledgeable people in your part of the country! Always learn something hear and I agree with the others - THANK YOU! for looking out for the workers of our eco-system! A big Happy Birthday to you both.

Glenda said...

You never cease to amaze me. I live a farm land life via your blog.

Marsha said...

Exciting times! I so hope they make it through the fall and winter. Happy Birthday! Skipper is so cute.


What a wonderful story and so well told--thank you and Stella for saving--hopefully--a big hive of bees--and that last picture of the pup--is totally awesome--
love and laughter, di

Anchor Cottage said...

Life's blessings! Wow:-)

T.L. Merrybard said...

Loved the bee story and photos, and Skipper is to die for with that heart on his/her forehead! Would love to keep bees one day but for now we content ourselves with watching the wild bee hive up at our block that somehow is thriving with combs stuck to the outside of a tall tree, and planting lots of plants that feed them.

Suzan said...

You have a very healthy bee colony!! And now a new one!!! Congratulations!! Enjoyed your photos!!


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