Today hubby and I agreed to have a lazy day. Yesterday had been very busy with lots achieved and we started today with a cooked breakfast and a quick trip to treat ourselves to a brush cutter. Ok, so that’s not a treat for some people but for me it will mean I am able to clear some land that I have been offered for a new apiary.
It was all going great, we had just got home and sat down with a slice of cake and a coffee in the garden. I have no idea why hubby nipped into the house but he returned with the phone muttering ‘ it’s for you. Say no’
I took the phone to hear a voice saying ‘ Hello, John gave me your number I’ve got a swarm.’ It took me a few minutes to work out who John was ( a contact from one of my community groups) where he lived (quite close, which is helpful) and where the bees were ( not in a tree, roof or chimney, so no ladders).
I’m not registered as a swarm collector as quite honestly I don’t want any more bees, but previously I have been out a number of times with the Bee Buddy. When told the bees were sitting in a bucket on the lawn it sounded to easy to turn down. I set off with a car boot full of the equipment I might need and a promise to be back to drink my coffee later.
The home owner was very friendly, the bees were exactly as he’d said and things were going well. Now you won’t believe this but while explaining the job another man entered the garden. He then explained he’d seen me wearing my suit at the car, he lived around the corner and he had a swarm in a compost bin. What a stroke of luck he said, would I take a look? You’ve guessed, I said ‘ sure, give me a minute to collect these and I’ll come and look.’
Here they are. A dream swarm to make a bee keeper look like a professional. I just picked it up and scooped it into a brood box
Then I put on a roof and left it sitting on the lawn to gather up the stragglers while I nipped around to see the next one. Easy!
At that point I should have gone home but here’s the compost bin. It’s here the fun begins!
It took me some minutes to break open the bin and as I lifted the lid I realised this was no recent swarm.
This picture shows the layers of honeycomb that broke from the lid and fell into the bin as I took off the lid. Layers and layers of comb in a big messy pile. These bees have been in this bin for some time and they’ve made merry with the warmth and seclusion.
I pondered the situation for sometime. I had to make the best of a less than ideal situation and as with anything to do with bees there was no 100% right answer. I ended up lifting out as much comb as I could, putting it into a brood box and stacking the box on a crown board above the bin. I tried to smoke the rest of the bees up into the box but the bin had so many exits that didn’t work. I tried smoking them down into another box at the bottom but the majority were in the top box and they didn’t fancy being separated.
I ended up leaving the box above the nest. The bees for all my fumbling were calm and friendly. The home owners are happy for them to be saved even if it takes a little while so I will leave them over night, in the hope they all go into the box, and go back tomorrow with a new idea.
I collected the first swarm as I headed home and dropped them at the apiary. Tomorrow hopefully I will take the others there but if not I will get them eventually.
I might not want any more bees but I’m certainly not going to give up on such a challenge!