Sky was clear and air was still. Lots of bees were out foraging for nectar and pollen and we decided that conditions were ideal to do a special check on our “new” hive, which began with a swarm that visited our Swarm Box in early April and were moved to their new home-hive in mid-April. Our main concern today was mites, which if found, we wanted to get rid of at an early stage.
So, the roof of the Top-Bar Hive got removed & the combs were inspected bar-by-bar.
Looked healthy, mite free.
Walls, base, combs looked “clean”.
Apart from mites, we were also trying to spot the Queen …
Lots of nanny workbees, some drones, capped cells ~ but couldn’t spot the Queen.
8 combs build in about 12 weeks.
They were healthy and happy (except during our short intrusion)
We now have peace of mind for these “newcomers”.
It is our hope that one day we will be granted audience with their Queen.
It’s been 6 days since we spotted Swarm No. 2 but how long had it been there before we noticed it is anyone’s guess. Day after day I’ve been watching it closely hoping that the “scouts” would persuade the Queen-bee to move to the Swarm Box a.k.a. Hivingham Palace.
Alas (or should I be filled with glee?), I think they’ve made their decision to live in a Treehive about 25 feet above ground level.
… still up on the tree today.
How did I come to that conclusion? Well, the wind & rain calmed down today and while the workers were out gathering food, I actually saw a comb.
a tree comb!
Is their comb safe on the tree? Will it get heavy and fall off when filled with honey and larvae? I guess Mother Nature will show me how she works on things.
Now, there are 2 Swarms of Bees in our front yard!!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find…” ~ Matthew 7:7
Our Swarm Box saga, parts 1 & 2 is finally coming to its finale.
Swarm Box on Top-Bar Hive
It has sat on our Top Bar Hive for 2 days and after much advice seeking and deliberation, we felt today would be just right to put the bees (that came to our front yard) where they will bee comfortable (pardon the pun).
Time for their big move …
Roof came off the Swarm Box
1 of 5 large combs built in a week!
No frames! They did their own thing.
The Box and Hive were of the same dimensions so each bar would sit comfortably from Box to Hive, in the same sequence. When 14 bars with their combs were transferred to the Hive, the poor bees were in a bit of a frenzy but fortunately not furious and only for about 15 minutes. So we sprayed some water to persuade them to calm down and head ‘indoors’.
We tried spotting the Queen but did not want to stretch the move unnecessarily long. Finally we left them be, allowing some to find their own way to the entrance of their new abode.
90% of the population in the new Hive
3 hours later
They seem to have adjusted well. It’s drizzling right now so I hope they are comfortably tucked up in their new home with rooms and furniture which they built and are accustomed to.
As I drove on to our driveway this afternoon, hubby came walking out, fast, and said “You won’t believe what’s happened!”. My first thought was “Uh-oh! Did someone die?”
Fortunately, no, it was good news. Well at that point in time it was good news. A new swarm of Honey Bees is in our front yard, about 30ft away from our beezy Swamp Box, up on a tree. Out came the cellphone from the handbag, just in case they disappeared if I was to run in to grab a camera. Wow!
OK, at the time of this post, 7.45pm, the swarm is still there ~ not as active but still there. Will they stay? Is there a way to persuade them to stick around? We already have a hive in the backyard and are now trying to establish one in the front yard. Can we use that green Swarm Box we have to attract them after we move the present occupants to the Topbar Hive which we have set up?
There is something in the front yard attracting bees … could it be the lemongrass hedge?
We have slowly lowered our Swarm Box thrice now, each time about a foot or so.
Believe it or not, we surfed the internet and took advice from experienced beekeepers and did our hive-moving at night, using a flashlight, when the bees were “indoors”. Making it as gradual as possible and as permitted by the curvature and rough surface of the tree trunk, we have now gotten it to manageable height. Our “spare” Topbar Hive has been cleaned and put in place with a garden fork inserted nearby to act as a kind of landmark. I took this short video with my cellphone which (I think) shows the bees are still busy & don’t mind the change of height of their ‘temporary’ residence.
The white band on the tree trunk was about 14″ below the Box’s originally position. We had brushed some diatomaceous earth there to end/break the route of a colony of ants plying up and down the tree.
So now, we wait further before sitting the Box on the Hive …
(Adopt the Pace of Nature; Her Secret is Patience. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
We love our hives and as relatively new (accidental) beekeepers, we’ve read much about those precious bees and how they swarm, especially in Spring, when Queens and Drones do what Ma Nature programmed them to do.
As an experiment we built a Swarm Box with spare wood and laced it with lemongrass oil. We’ve seen some busy buzzing bees in our front yard the last few days and kept close watch. Suddenly today we see this “beard” configuration of bees busy setting up home!
In case any veteran beekeepers are reading this, we seek advice:
When the Queen is ready & workers begin pollen hunting, what’s the best way to move them from a Top-Bar Swarm Box to a Top-Bar Hive. Is it better to have the Hive just below the Box (which is on a tree) and lower it perhaps 6″ everyday to end up sitting on the hive and then move the Bars with combs into the hive?
Swarm Box on tree
Or should we just move the Bars into the Hive early evening when they are inactive?
Gosh, I love those little bees … seeing them buzzing around simply makes me happy.
This morning as I washed my coffee cup and looked out of the window over the sink, my heart skipped a beat. It was like a scene from the movies … with sound effects too.
I ran to get my camera and stepped out the backdoor where things just got bee-sier and bee-sier …
My 1st thought was “Oh no!, which one of my hives (I’ve got 2) are going to be half empty?” that was followed by wondering where they would station their swarm temporarily.
I got my answer ~ 40ft up on a pine tree branch,
Things have settled down a bit … they are still up on the tree, so I went down to do a quick check on our hives.
The looked normal. Then where is this swarm from? Are they going to settle in my composting barrel (again)?
Yes, they are building up in numbers so fast, even we, the Beekeeping Newbies are noticing the growth.
On our neighbor’s triple plot, where a beehive has been placed by a local Honeybee Keeper (who is away right now), the colony is growing and the box-hive looks like it has run out of room.
1 side of the box
the other side
From notes I’ve read on the internet, they might be preparing for the hatching and maturing of a new queen to start a new swarm. It’s been a couple of days now that they’ve stayed on the exterior of the box-hive.
In case they do leave and create a temporary swarm on a nearby tree, hubby and I have prepared a bucket, to “bucket them” and bring them to a new hive we’ve built about 50ft away. We’ve even prepared lemongrass oil to enhance their stay.
Are we reading the signs right? Any advice and information from seasoned beekeepers will be really appreciated.