More Swarms

It seems the reproduction season for bees is well and truly here.  One of my own hives swarmed today just after the sun broke from behind the clouds where it had been hiding all morning.  I was intending to go into the house from the garden for some lunch, but something caused me to visit the hives on the way.  I could see that one was particularly active even from a distance and, as I approached, I witnessed thousands of bees rushing in a frenzy from the entrance.  Within moments I was in the middle of a multitude of bees swirling in the air.

Those familiar with my apiary, know that it is surrounded by tall trees.  To avoid the swarm disappearing into high branches out of reach, I quickly retrieved a used top bar that still had a residue of comb on it and put a couple of drops of lemon grass oil onto the wax.  I waved this in the air in the middle of the swarm and then placed it in a small fruit tree not far from the hives.  The bees soon picked up the scent of the top bar and the swarm slowly settled on the little fruit tree.  I propped a skep above them and the swarm spent a couple of hours moving up into it.

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As evening approached and all the flying bees had settled, I ran them into a hive.  I spotted the queen as she walked over the backs of the workers.  She is a beautiful even dark colour, quite small and elegant. Once the queen was in I could relax in the knowledge that the other bees would follow.

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No matter how many times one experiences such an event, it is always special.  It lifts the soul and makes the heart race.  Bees are truly incredible creatures!

Gareth, Cotswolds

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6 Responses to More Swarms

  1. Paul says:

    Stunning pictures. I shall remember that trick with the comb!

    It says a lot about how little you have to intervene with your hives, that you remark upon the queen’s appearance.

    • simplebees says:

      It says a lot about how little you have to intervene with your hives, that you remark upon the queen’s appearance.

      I increasingly think of the Warré hive as a series of stacked skeps. Skepists don’t spend their time looking for the queen, or even constantly going through their hives. In the Warré, as with a skep, the management unit (if one wants to manage) is the box, not individual combs.

      Gareth, Cotswolds

  2. Julia says:

    Congratulations Gareth, unbelievable! You make it seem absolutely possible for the rest of us. Great photos.

  3. Penny says:

    Lovely account Gareth. After years of watching my swarms disappear 50′ up into the trees never to be seen again, I shall now try your top bar method. Thanks.

    • simplebees says:

      Penny said:

      After years of watching my swarms disappear 50′ up into the trees never to be seen again, I shall now try your top bar method.

      My previous apiary was in an open field and there were no trees within two hundred yards. So swarms often disappeared horizontally rather than vertically. Neighbours would phone me to say a swarm was in their garden, but often only after it had left!

      I have now made the top bar a permanent feature of the apiary. I’ll post a photo.

      Gareth, Cotswolds

  4. Pingback: Swarm Update | Simple Bees

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