Saturday, 30 April 2011
Catching a swarm
Exactly a month to the day, earlier than last year one of the hives swarmed. Yet again a capped queen cell was missed during the previous inspection.
The bees initially settled in the churchyard hedge close to the apiary. Not the easiest of places to gather them from, as the queen had positioned herself in the fork of a hollow tree with her bees surrounding her, but with a little careful pruning we were able to place the skep above the swarm hoping the bees would crawl up towards the dark into it.
After a while when most of the bees were hanging from the roof of the skep we carefully lifted it down, only to knock it against one of the branches. In an instant the majority of the bees poured out of the skep and flew on mass over the church to the fields beyond.
Carefully placing the skep with the few remaining bees on the ground, with a queen excluder beneath, we just hoped the queen was still in residence and was not one of the many last seen as a dark cloud in the distance. She was..still in the skep that is.... ten minutes or so later, although it felt so much longer the bees started to return and make their way back into the skep.
Once confident we had caught most of the flying bees we wrapped the skep in a sheet and placed it in the shade of the apiary. Later that evening we walked the swarm into a new hive, a queen excluder firmly in place to stop them from taking off and finding a place of their own the next day.