How lucky am I, to have honey readily available for drizzling on anything – in this case leftover cornbread, for breakfast? I know you want some too – who wouldn’t? Having an abundance of honey to use daily is one reason I am a bee keeper. If my meals don’t call for honey I simply open the jar, take out a teaspoon, dip it in the liquid golden nectar and insert it into my mouth. At that moment Life is Good!
It is September, a tad late in the year for swarm calls, but yesterday I received one. A friend knew of a swarm in a dead tree at one of our high schools. Now, high school kids and a swarm of bees is not an agreeable situation. The swarm is calm and collected, high school kids on the other hand….My adoring hubby and I loaded up the truck with our swarm removal tools and headed over. We arrived to find a dead tree with a small swarm about 8 feet up in the tree. With one hard shake the majority of the bees fell into my bucket and I dumped them into a hive body, built especially for transporting bees. Usually I dump them onto a sheet to look for the queen, but feeling the need to rush this job along, before the dismissal bell rang sent me on a different course. I dumped them into the hive box and said , “let’s just look for her”. Upon first glance she made herself visible and I caught her in the queen catcher. Success! Now we only needed to sit back and wait for the rest of her colony to fly on into the hive box, which after about 20 minutes they did. Wow! I like September swarms!
The next step after removing a swarm is to place the queen and her ladies in a hive body where they will set up a new home. With our weather still warm these girls will, I hope, have an opportunity to settle in before the cool weather arrives. Before a bunch of bees and their queen take off in a swarm they fill their tummies with as much honey as they can hold because they know it’ll be a while until they have access to more. When a swarm is captured they are usually pretty hungry and desiring a gentle and generous bee keeper to provide them with a home and a bit of much-needed food. Lucky girls these, as that is exactly what I did.
This morning bright and early I went down to my apiary and removed one frame full of honey from one of my strong hives and brought it to the new hive. I also prepared a batch of sugar syrup just for the bees and brought along a bee feeder. The first task I faced was to lift out the queen catcher and be sure she was still alive. Fortunately she was just fine, surrounded by her attendants, some inside with her and some protecting her highness from the outside. I took a few photos and then gently placed my hand down inside the hive gingerly holding the queen catcher and slowly opened it for her to walk right out, and that is precisely what she did. Ahhh, it is a joy for a bee keeper to lay her eyes on a queen and know she is in residence. The satisfaction of saving a colony is another reason I enjoy my hobby bee keeping. Knowing that I a making a small contribution to saving the bees and improving our chances of having fresh fruits and vegetables available for the years ahead.
The last step was to provide some food for these patient, calm and hungry girls. I placed the full frame of honey inside the hive body and with in seconds they were making a fast approach to the frame and beginning to eat. It was like somebody shouted, “breakfast is ready”. I smiled, closed up the hive and placed the feeder at the front entrance to deliver syrup for them to make into honey in their new home. Like my friend said, “more bees – more honey”. That’s for sure.
My last dilemma is what to name this new queen. I name my hives, mainly to help my man Dan keep them straight when we are discussing them. I have Queen Heidi, Queen Miracle, Queen Rita, April, Anne, Elena and Leona. I challenge you to leave me your suggestion for a name for hive #8. Bee keeping is nothing but problem solving and this is a problem I’d like your help with. Any takers? I’ll be looking forward to your submissions so bring ’em on!
Below are a series of photos to help you visualize the
process of removing and setting up a swarm. I’ve also included some photos of the lovely donkey farm where Queen Leona and Hive #8 are located. A delightful friend from New Zealand so kindly offered a perfect spot near her tank and a multitude of flowering plants. The bees are quite happy here but one hive remains nameless…help!