Beekeeper's Blog : February 23, 2013
Swarm Time! The first swarm of the season courtesy of a beekeeper in Mill Valley made an appearance this week. She has a couple hives that are growing quickly now and one tossed off a swarm. It flew across the street to a neighbor's house and landed on a low branch (thank you, no climbing). Quite a piece of abstract art really.
The early cold morning kept the bees in a tight formation as we approached with branch cutting tools and boxes in hand for the capture.
One beekeeper in the bush and two on the ground...is that how it goes? Anyway, the grounded beekeeper held up a bee capture box over his head, under the swarm and I grabbed the branch in order to give it a big shake. The expected results was to see the bees fall off the branch into the box. Sounds easy, right? Well nothing, I mean nothing is immune to Murphy's fundamental law of getting stuff done and bee capturing is no exception. When I pulled on the branch, I sort of didn't pull it straight down. Instead, unfortunately for the beekeeper holding the box, I jerked the branch more sideways than down and bees dumped right on top of the beekeeper, not in the box. I have to give him credit for keeping calm as thousand of confused bees clung to him in utter surprise that their branch was now gone. He was literally wearing a bee coat. Without delay, I apologetically brushed bees off of my brave assistant until we had most of them where we wanted them, in the box.
What happened next was really a relief. We set the bee box on the ground adjacent to where a pile of bees had fallen and watched them march right into the box.
Somehow in all the confusion we had captured the queen (in the box). The bees on the ground, in the bushes, in the air were all headed to her and their new home that we so skillfully provided. We patted ourselves on the back for a job....done even if it didn't go exactly as planned. The bees were left for the day to re-orient to their new home in the provided box (a small "nucleus" hive) and start housekeeping. Then just before dark, when they were all inside for the night, they were whisked away to a new home.