Over the last 2 weeks I have been going back and forth out to Hudson, Colorado to help some homeowners with bee issues. There is a beekeeper that has hives just south of their home. These bees decided to swarm North to her dying tree in the front yard.
Bees love old wood, and I love bees!
If you look closely, all of the dark spots on the tree are bees.
I would guess this to be a 8-10lbs of bees!
In the middle of that mass is the Queen Bee! The swarm is keeping her safe till they find a new home. Insert ME! Beekeeper with one more deep box to catch a swarm in! (happy dance)
I received the call from my new friend in Hudson to come gather some "Free Bees" haha It was close to 4pm when I arrived. They had an extension ladder set up for me in the tree the swarm was in. The swarm was about 15 feet up.
When I set up to catch a swarm, I start by putting a large blanket or drop cloth below them. I place my deep langstroth hive body on top and place a frame next to it. I spray a few frames inside with sugar water, and I put lemongrass oil on the wood. I also line my boxes with beeswax.
The one frame on the outside acts as a guide for them.
I use a Home Depot Bucket with a shower drain cut through the bottom of it to catch swarms high up.
I can insert a 10' plastic conduit pipe in the drain end and raise the bucket up into the tree. I didn't need my long pole since I had the ladder.
But I didn't realize that until I was up there.
I like to learn the hard way y'all. I gathered about 5 buckets of bees and dumped them into the hive body. Hoping that the Queen is in there somewhere. The sun was setting and a storm was moving in. So my time for looking around was limited.
Once I felt like I got the majority of the swarm out of the tree, I started to insert frames for them to hang onto. Normally I wouldn't leave a box overnight at someone's home.
But this was out in the country and wasn't bothering the owners.
Allowing the box to stay there let the rest of the bees find their way in.
I was home in time for sloppy Joe's with the family.
Thursday I went back out to collect the swarm at 5 a.m. with lots of strong coffee in hand.
When bees are cold, they cluster together for warmth.
So by going out in the early cool morning time, they don't want to move away from each other.
Making moving them much much easier!
I wrapped the box up in the blanket and loaded them into my Jeep for a little ride to Longmont. I didn't even need my suit on to drive.
Longmont Apiary Yard I really needed this swarm! I have had a Queen-less hive for about 5 weeks.
They made a bunch of Queen cells, they emerged. But something must have happened. Either she did not mated correctly, or didn't make it back to the hive. Insert the swarm here!
I removed the Queen-les hive body from the bottom vented board and set them aside. Then I unwrapped the swarm and carried that deep box over the hive stand. Once I had them on, I placed a piece of newspaper on top of them. I like to use a couple of push pins to help me keep down the paper while I get the other hive body. Otherwise your newspaper likes to fly away! Ask me why I know this :) Once the hive was put back together, I leaned a telescoping cover up against the hive so the bees had a ramp to go up. I spread the blanket out in front of the hive and set rocks down on the edges. It was a windy morning.
I left to go take my kids to school, then circled back to the swarm. That gave them enough time to come off of the blanket and march inside. I cleaned up my mess and waited till Monday to check on them........
Success in beekeeping is measured by eaten newspaper!
When merging a Queen-less hive, with a Queen right swarm, you can not just dump them in together.
They don't all smell the same yet.
So I put a piece of newspaper between the Queen right swarm (bottom box) and the Queen-less colony on top. The top bees need to exit to work. They know down is out. So they start eating the paper to get out. As the swarm smells nectar and bees up top, they eat the paper to get to them. Everyone slowly says their hellos and they slowly merge together over a few days.
I placed this swarm at 6am Thursday morning.
Today (Monday) they had eaten everything separating them.
Then I had an extra surprise
I spotted eggs about 3 days old, up in the 2nd deep.
The Queen is already laying in the drawn out comb from the Queen-less colony.
The eggs are dead center and some are even leaning already. Meaning she got to work ASAP. Laying down eggs are 3-4 days old and will soon start being fed and capped.
They were very hungry, so they got a donation frame of honey from another colony.
All the other hives are finishing up nectar harvest till Labor Day.
I only got stung once in the fat of my back left arm. A bee chased me out of my mom's garden and nailed me. If you are counting, I think this is sting #13