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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Captured a Swarm!

Cindy Bee (Ga Beekeeper of the Year 2006) keeps a swarm catcher list. I never got a call last year but today I did!

I was driving to work, feeling a little down because I only had appointments at 9 and 10 this morning and then nothing else until late this afternoon. As I pulled into the parking lot, my cell rang and it was Cindy - she had a swarm for me in an office complex parking lot near my house.

I called the woman who reported the swarm and told her I couldn't get there until 11:30, but I would be there then. Then I went to work and hoped, hoped, hoped the bees would still be there at 11:30. The bees had first been spotted last night, so I'm sure they were about ready to move on.

At 11 I raced home, grabbed my pruning shears (she said they were in a small tree), a large cardboard box, a sheet, some tape, my bee brush, my gloves, two bandanas (to keep my helmet from slipping over my eyes!) and then found that my beesuit was wet in the washing machine. I threw it in the dryer for a few minutes while I packed the car.

It was raining when I arrived in my still-damp beesuit. But the bees were the easiest to get in the world. They were a small swarm on a drooping branch on a tree. Because of the rain a number of bees were also clustered on the juniper bushes below.

Cindy told me to put a sheet under the cardboard box and then shake the bees in. I tried to put the sheet on the tops of the juniper bushes, but it was difficult. The box I set right under the bees. I had to work around parked cars and these ^$^#^^%$ juniper bushes.

I shook the swarm from the four different branches on which it was located into the box and then cut some of the juniper out from the area below and shook those bees into the box. I waited about 45 minutes for the bees to find the box. Several put their rear ends up and started the nasonov dance so I felt pretty sure the queen was in the box.

The bees kept me company in the car and were all over the back window. When I popped the back of the car and took out the box, I moved really slowly so that those loose bees might feel inclined to come along.

Cindy had told me to take an empty hive body and set it over the hive body full of frames in which the new bees would live. That would serve as a funnel for the bees to get them on top of the frames in the box below.

I turn into a complete nervous wreck doing something like this, so bees were not only in the hive box funnel but in a pile on the deck in front of the box. For the life of me, I don't know how I could miss such a big target, but I did. I was afraid the queen might be in the clump on the deck so I slid those onto a piece of cardboard and dumped them into the box.

I hope I didn't injure the queen in my awkward transfer from box to hive, but it is accomplished and the bees are orienting and I'm happy.

Josie, the lady who reported the swarm, was kind enough to take pictures of the removal. She got stung in the process. I hated that - bees were swarming all over me and I didn't get stung even once, so I felt bad for her.

Great day not to be busy at work! I hope these girls are happy in their new box (the one I had set out for a swarm lure).

6 comments:

  1. Rock on, Linda!!! Sometimes the flow of work and life is just right - glad you managed it.

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  2. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Oh my gosh Linda, I am so happy for you to be able to experience this. I am sure they will be a great beehive and build up fast.

    You are the best

    Annette from Placerville California

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mom, that's great! Good job! Way to make a beeline toward an opportunity to do something cool! Ha ha. Love, Becky

    ReplyDelete
  4. Clifford R. Tillman, Jr.12:28 PM

    My Aunt the Bee Whisperer!!! Nice Work Aunt Linda!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can relate to this saga. Amazing how the beekeeping books always make swarm-catching sound like a breeze.

    Anyway you did good. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  6. oooh, nicely done!

    ReplyDelete

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