Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Swarm - 03/12/2012

So it was about 2:00pm, the temperature was right and the bees were in flight when the call came. "There is a swirl of bees!!!"  After a brief discussion and being happy I had just purchased the necessary equipment to make yet one more hive, I headed to the action. 
When I arrived, I could see the bees were in a very neat cluster.

We proceeded to ready our new deep brood box to receive the swarm.  To ready our brood box we did the following:
  1. Positioned the box near the swarm.  The box had a screen bottom and was up on cinder blocks so when the process was completed it could easily be picked up.
  2. All of the 10 frames were sprayed with sugar water.
  3. A hint of Lemon Grass was rubbed over frame # 5.
  4. A screen inner cover was within arms reach.
With everything ready we just had to get the swarm into the box.  Fortunately the beekeeper with me had a wonderful ladder that was just the right height.

So I climbed up the ladder and simultaneously clipped the branch with one hand and held it with another.  The trick is to gently lower the branch until you are ready to get the bees into the box and then you shake them in with one or two shakes.  The bee boss showed me this a few years back.  It is interesting to watch.  The one bee we want in the box is the queen.  She naturally goes down into the box looking for a dark spot.  Note there is a bottom screen under the box so no bees fall through.

The next part of the process is timing.  When we looked at the swarm on the tree branch they were debating.  We learned this from Dr. Thomas D. Seeley in his book "HoneyBee Democracy".  The bees were deciding where to go.  If we snag them before they take a vote, we can move them where we want.  Well, that's the theory but, of course, the bees didn't read Dr. Seeley's book.

With the bees in the box we wanted to give as many as possible a chance to join their friends.  So a pause of a minute seemed prudent.  Too long of a pause and they will orient themselves to this new location and the beekeepers rule of 2 feet  or 2 miles comes into play.  Also I put a screen top on the box to keep bees in and encourage them to cluster in the box.  Seems to work.

So if we have our timing right and a nicely prepared home for them, hopefully our new little bees want to stay. If we treat them nice we can get the bees to send out their little pheromones in front of the hive to tell their buddies, this is where we go.  A cinder block and ladder had some lost bees so we brought that over to the hive. They left their cinder block, the ladder and finally the screen to go inside.

We poured a thin sugar water solution into the Mann Lake hivetop feeder to stimulate wax and cell building.

Finally our new hive "Chet" is in for the night.

Here's hoping we got it right.

A special thanks to Dietlinde Zipkin, the beekeeper behind the lens, for all of her great photography.  In addition to taking all of the pictures, she was busy working with me in many ways to pull this off.
Bee Boy out.

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