May 16 – After weeks of waiting with my new top bar hive sitting hopefully in the garden, the call came through from the local swarm officer – would I like a swarm? A moment of panic led to a concern that I wasn’t quite ‘ready’ but my enthusiasm won her over and I agreed a time to arrive. The swarm had landed on a low branch of a shrub which had been cut and laid onto a sheet, adjacent to an upside-down box. Like a well-trained swarm the bees had then walked under the unlifted corner and were all settled inside by the time I arrive. It seemed so simple – the corners of the sheet were fastened round the box and the whole lifted into the boot of my car. I got home at 8.30, lifted them out and put them next to the hive to recovered from the journey – actually I needed to regain my composure and to await my stallwart guide, Elizabeth who had agreed to leave her children and drive for 40 minutes to help with the next stage.
By 9pm we were suited up and opening the hive, ready to introduce the bees to thier new home. It was cold and dark so walking them in seemed unwise. Instead we opened the sheet and manovered the upside-down box over the hive and then shook the bees downwards. Most ended up in the right place, a few flew rather crossly upwards to find out who or what was disturbing them and, after a little persuasion to keep out of the way, we replaced the top bars and re-positioned the lid. Moments later the stragglers were being ushered in by determined fanning at the entrance and we retreated, leaving them to settle in.