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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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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.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Tale of Two PrePackaged Swarms

Lately I've gotten two swarms without having to do the capture!

On Tuesday, I got a call from the MABA Swarm Call Lady (my co-editor for Spilling the Honey, Gina G.).  She knows we only have one hive at Chastain where we do our teaching inspections, so she had a swarm that had been donated to MABA for us to put there.

The man who caught the swarm, Chris, had already put the swarm in a medium box and was holding it for us to pick up.  I arranged to come very early the next morning to get the bees before time to go foraging.  I drove to his house and easy peasy, the swarm was ready to go.  I moved the bees on his frames into my medium hive, wrapped the hive with a strap, closed the entrance with his staple gun (yes, I did the stapling!) and went home.

I had a Skype appointment from 9 - 10, so I left the bees in the car with the moon roof open and returned to the car an hour later to drive the bees to Chastain.  The drive was uneventful, but I thought there were a rather large number of bees loose in the car.  When I arrived at Chastain and opened the trunk, the strap had slipped (where was Jeff when I needed him???) and the box had slid a little, leaving an opening large enough for a lot of bees to have left the hive to wander in the way-back of my car.

Over the winter one of the cinder blocks had been moved.  I replaced it but just couldn't get it level.  I carried the hive to the cinder blocks (a one box medium with a telescoping cover and a slatted rack).  The hive was still strapped together.  As I leaned down to put the hive on the cinder blocks, I lost my balance, fell forward, and the hive also, of course, fell.  What a calamity!

I righted the hive and put it on the blocks.  The bees on the top went straight for the hole in the inner cover and went down into the hive.  I hope that means the queen is OK.  Hope, hope, hope I didn't kill the queen.

I tried and tried but I couldn't get it level which pretty much means they WILL draw crooked comb.  But I had to go back to work.  If we have to rubber band every frame, that's what we will do on Thursday's inspection this week.

Then while I was in the mountains yesterday, I got a call from a man in Atlanta who had found me on the Internet.  Spencer, the beekeeper, had two hives and one of them had sent out a small swarm the day before.  He had gathered the swarm into a cardboard box.  I encouraged him to cover the box with a screen wire and I would pick it up today.  He said the swarm was very small - about the size of a dinner plate and one inch thick.

Here are Spencer's hives:

I peered into the box when I got to Spencer's house.  I could see the cluster in the corner of the box.  To use our "cat" measure, this swarm was about the size of a squirrel....not close to a cat.  The good news is that they had started emitting wax from their abdomens (see the wax in the corner) so they are eager to put a hive to rights and get started building their home.

I brought them home and put them into the empty nuc hive in my backyard.  They went into the box easily (thank goodness, since it was raining) and I set the nuc on the cinder blocks (without either falling or dropping the hive).  By dinner time the Jack Daniels box was completely empty and the bees had all gone into the nuc.  I don't know how they will do.

He treats his bees and I do not.  Sometimes bees that come from a treated yard do not do well on their own.  I am crossing my fingers and very grateful for these two free hives.  It was such a gift to get them already boxed - even if one of the boxes was a cardboard one.

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