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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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Swarms Here, Swarms There, Swarms, Swarms Everywhere

There are swarms all over Atlanta - many calls during these last couple of weeks.  As you know from my last post, I collected a swarm in Decatur on Friday night and housed it in an eight frame medium box at my house.

I had invited beekeeping friends for dinner on Saturday night and as one couple walked up my sidewalk, they noticed a swarm on one of my azalea bushes.  We all went out and looked at it and it was still hanging there when they left much later.  I decided to collect it this morning bright and early.

This morning the swarm was still there - as it hung on the azalea, I thought to myself that it was so similar in size to the swarm I had caught in Decatur.  I spread a sheet under the swarm in preparation for shaking it into a box and walked to the backyard to determine where I would put it.

I looked at my backyard hives - SOS1 and SOS2, the swarm hive from the day before and the MABA club nuc.  As I looked I realized no bees were flying in and out of the swarm hive box.  I lifted the top:  NO BEES.

The swarm in my front yard looked like the one from Decatur because it WAS the swarm from Decatur.

They didn't like their new digs and left.  Now what was I to do with them?

They are very small bees - likely feral bees because of their size.  I began to think that a hive box was not for them.  I decided to house them in my top bar hive box.  It's more similar to a tree, albeit a tree lying on its side.



So I set up the bars for it, putting the follower boards close enough to each other that only seven bars would be available at first for these bees.   I heard Buster Lane speak at Tara last week on installing nucs, packages and swarms.  He said that swarms and packages don't like screened bottom boards and that he closes up the SBB when he installs.

So I took an unfolded cardboard box from my move and slid it under Topsy to close off the SBB.  I put old comb top bars as most of the seven bars so that a homey smell would greet the bees.

Then I returned to the front yard.



I placed my swarm catcher banker's box under the bees, sprayed them with sugar syrup and shook the branch hard, dropping bees into the box below.  (A few azalea flowers came too)




The handle area of this banker's box is closed with screen wire on both handle sides, but the handle on this side includes an open area about 2 inches along the bottom of the handle to give the bees an entry.


I had five other packages to install today that were picked up from Don in Lula yesterday, so I left these bees for about an hour and went to install bees at the Morningside Community Garden where I am going to be the beekeeper.

When I returned the bees were gathered at the entrance, sending the nasonov signal to draw bees into the hive.  Most bees were in the hive except for a few who remained in a cut open milk carton that I use as a scoop.


I opened the area in the top bar between the follower boards and shook in the bees.



I hope they will like this hive and will stay.


I replaced the top bars, put on the cover and left for a day of bee installations, crossing my fingers that the bees would still be in the box when I returned.


I had so little faith that these bees would stay that I bet my son-in-law that I would return home at the end of this long bee day to find the bees had left.  If I lost, I had to buy him a beer at dinner.



I returned to find the bees still in the box, orienting and not swirling around as they had been at 11:30 when I left.  I gladly bought his beer and hope that this portends well for the future of this hive.  In my own backyard, I should be able to manage this top bar better and since it is a swarm and not a package, there's no queen cage to start the comb building off all catty-whumpus……so we'll see.
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Hi Linda, not a moments rest by the sounds of things! Is there a reason for the shiny top on the top bar? and another thing. When you do have time perhaps you could post a tour of your new home apiary. You did one of the deck and it was very visually informative. Thnx. from Denmark.
    Warren

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