Monday, April 16, 2012

Honey Bee swarm grabbed today

This morning I was home taking care of business and got a call from the OCBA Swarm Patrol that a swarm was in a tree and  could I go get it? I said yes as I looked at the cardboard nuk box Meg bought me 2 weeks ago. So I rushed about to put the box together and gathered my things to go get this swarm 7 foot up in a tree. Brought the camera but left the memory card, darn..

Got there and the swarm was huge 4-5 pounds of bees and more like 10 foot up in the tree. My 6 ft ladder was too short. The home owner offered her pick up to set up the ladder in, now the ladder is 9 foot tall good enough. I'd recently hurt my finger and it is in a split, so I'm a little disadvantaged in getting this big swarm. So I'm up in the back of the truck, I see the method I'll use. The limbs are nearly 3 inches and will hardly shake. So I set the ladder under them as support if the box gets to heavy. I climb up on the side of the truck bed and grab hold of the limb for balance and shake the bees off. With my good hand I hold the card board nuk box just a few inches under the bees. I shake it as hard as I could and half the bees dropped right into my box! The other half stayed on the limb.

I set the box down in the bed of the truck and cover it. Bees start moving in, a few at a time. No bees are exiting, a very good sign. The rest of the bees thousands of them start to take flight in a swarm, they leave, circle and return. Bees everywhere in the air around us for a good 30 minutes. The bed liner in the truck looks like a landing strip, at first a foot wide and two foot long, growing to a mass of bees a foot wide by over four foot long. All moving slowly or waiting their turn as bees proceeded into the box 8-10 at a time. And no memory card, it was so cool!

By the time only 40-50 bees were left I closed up the box and headed home with them. Thinking Meg will have a fit with me setting up a 6th hive in the yard. OK I'm going to the farm down the street, I'd talked about putting bees there a month ago, they were cool with it. I found the owner as they were eating lunch. We went and sighted out a spot for the bees, she carried the bees and I grabbed a concrete block to set them on. Set the bees up on the block and opened it up. With in minutes the bees were bearding out of the small nuk box as shown below.

Looked to me as if they were going swarm as this nuk box was too little to start with this many bees. I went home and gathered up a 10 frame hive box and another concrete block to set them on. I painted the lid and bottom and then put foundation in frames I already had put together. All as the bees foamed out the front of the nuk.

After the hive was ready I grabbed the box and shook the bees off the front. Opened the nuk to find the two frames inside covered in bees and the rest of the box as well. Set the frames with bees inside and waited. Again a big flight of bees in the air and finally most went into the new bee hive.
I returned an hour of so later to get the cardboard nuk box and was told that one of the farm workers had been stung already. They laughed at me and said the bees were just settling in. I'm thinking another box will need to be put on this hive in a week or so. So I now have a sunny spot of my bees on a one acre farm. 

 Promised you I would show you the rest of the new top bar hive Meg painted. Above is the Bee Express and the honey cell window. Below is the flowers side. The bee package was installed on Saturday. Really did not need to buy bees, today's bees would have loved this hive. I released the queen tonight, not much progress could be seen thought it has been made in just two days.
 The bee hive we cut out a week ago Saturday, I looked in on Friday. Bees hatching, drones galore and the combs all were secured to the frames already. Bad news is on Saturday David and I looked at the front of the hive and counted at least 6 bees with deformed wing virus on the ground in front of the hive.

The nuk I split from the main hive 30 days ago had a small amount of drone brood in it, I'll wait a few more days to see if it gets worker brood or not, and get a queen for them if need be.

Never thought bees would be so much fun. I mentioned my friend David was over on Saturday. They had an empty hive he was getting ready to install a package in next week. While they were here visiting  a swarm moved into his hive!

More on gardening soon. Below is a camellia that surprised me on Saturday Camellia japonica 'April Dawn' our second ever bloom.
Been watering like crazy, no rain in sight everything is wilting with temps reaching into the mid 80s already. Broke the sprinkler this morning. Replaced the sprinkler and bought a broken one today. Meg found a really good metal sprinkler on her way home tonight.


Andrea said...

What an amazing post and funny too! I don't forget my memory card because i transfer photos directly from camera, so MC not taken out anytime or else I might be so stressed. How i wish i am nearby so i can observe the action, and maybe learn to do it on my own someday! You're amazing Randy!

Rohrerbot said...

That's great Randy!!! You should head over to our place. We had them all over our property yesterday. Today I don't know where they went....but it's calm. There were several thousand of them around our shed and it was pretty scary. You are going to have a blast with this project:) And the honey tastes good as well:)

Marks Bees said...

Randy: Sounds like a great plan for the circumstances you were in with a short ladder and a hurt finger. But thank goodness it all worked out. I'm thinking about one of those swarm catching buckets that looks like a five-gallon bucket on a stick. I know you can buy them but I also saw instructions for one of them on some website. If I find it, I'll pass it along. -Mark

Caroline Gill said...

What bee antics, Randy! I just love the artwork, too. What lucky bees ... but do they realise just how well they are being looked after, I wonder!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

We have been watering a lot too. Maybe this week, closer to Thursday / Friday will get some rain??
Went to my beekeeper speaker meeting. It was informative but not nearly as interesting as your posts. I have learned a lot more from you than that meeting. You do share the excitement in your writing. Glad you are enjoying it so much AND sharing it with us.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

It's difficult to post about gardening when swarm season is in full swing! ;) I now have TWO swarms (our Salvia hive swarmed yesterday, 24 hours after Lavender) 35-50 feet up in two oaks hanging over our orchard. I really wish they'd not landed so high up, but I'm grateful I'd already split both hives before they swarmed. Glad you managed to get the swarm from the tree. It's amazing how heavy that box gets when they fall in and you're up a ladder. I love the sides of that top bar hive too, Meg is so talented!

Indie said...

Fascinating. That's so interesting how you can move a swarm into a box!

The painted top bar hive is so cute!

Kim and Victoria said...

Great post! I can't imagine dealing with all those bees, but when I read how fun you thought it was, I realized I could tell that from your post. Very nice!

Skeeter said...

You do make your bee keeping sound so exciting Randy! I am so glad you are having so much luck with your bees. Makes up for people like me that do not have a hive. But I do plant my share of flowers for them to enjoy....

Love the play house! I bet lots of memories are made in that beauty...

aj said...

Hi Randy,

I am pretty impressed with your blog and the way you do things- using recycled stuff, bee keeping etc etc. I am new to your blog and honestly am not aware of blog etiquittes but I really need to ask you this burning question. In fact I stumbled upon your blog looking for an answer to this question on the internet. I bought a mulch dye tote, exactly similar to one that you did last year just a few days ago. I have been since then having second thoughts regarding its safety to use as a rain barrel. I was wondering what your experience has been. Mine too was used for brown mulch dye. Did you take any special preacautions to clean it out (vinegar/bleach ??) and has the water become clean, clear and colorless now. Have you used the water on your veggie garden too.

I will be very thankful for any advise of yours on this. Thanks so much in advance! Regards.

Randy Emmitt said...

The first 25 gallons of water was brown, poured it out as waste, took a while to clear up, but not too long. We used the water mostly on flowers in the garden when the rain tote was new. By the time we'd used it a bit we used it on the veggies.

aj said...

Thanks so much Randy- very reassuring to hear that! I will go ahead and start working on installing my tote! Have a very nice day!:)

tina said...

Even without pictures the swarm sounds really cool! I can picture you on a stepladder in the bed of a truck holding a box while the bees are falling into it! Meg did an awesome job on painting the beehive. How cool you got all those bees for free. Beautiful camellia!

keewee said...

Thanks for sharing your story. What an exciting thing to do, capturing and re-locating a swarm.

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