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A Swarm in May is worth a load of hay!

It is sad to be a beekeeper in spring with empty hives. When I cleaned my hives out, I arranged them in such a way that they were ready for bees, even if a swarm decided to come to my hives. Well, a swarm didn't come to my hives, but a friend called this morning to say he had a swarm in his pine tree. Since he is only three miles away, I gathered my gear and took off. I took my six foot ladder because he thought it was about ten feet off the ground. Even if his estimate was right, that was pushing it because I am, let's just say, vertically challenged. When I arrived, I saw that it was a nice, large swarm mostly clustered on one branch that could easily be clipped. Well, easily clipped if I could reach it! It was way beyond me and my ladder. Fortuantely the neighbor across the street had a nice tall step ladder and gladly loaned it. I had brought a wooden nuc box to house the swarm in. I got up there and clipped the branch with the swarm and made my way down the ladder, but between my veil, my progressive lens glasses and the fact that I am not used to being on that tall of ladder, I accidently stepped off several steps up from the ground. Down I went and the swarm crashed on the ground. But, since it was only in the 50's, they weren't too difficult to scoop up. I did the best I could and left the open nuc box for a couple of hours while I went to another responsibility. When I returned, all the bees were clustered on or around the nuc box, so I am certain the queen was in there. I brushed all I could into the box and headed home. This picture is the hive after I shook everyone in. I left the lid by the entrance because it was covered with bees. They began instantly to march into the entrance, which meant I successfully hived the queen.

Even though several bees got into my veil and a few up my pant legs, I did not get stung. Neither did any of the onlookers, although the bees did come over to see them and even got in one person's hair. That means they must not be that aggressive, which I am happy about. It was a large swarm, so not quite worth a load of hay, which is worth quite a lot, I will tell you, but worth at least two packages. When I checked a little later, all the bees on the cover were gone, and most of the ones on the side had successfully entered the hive. The side holes are small, just for ventilation, so it took awhile for the crowd to get in single file! So, I am officially a beekeeper again! Since I have two nucs on order, I will have to set up a vertical hive for one of them, so so field days we will have at least one vertical hive. Unless I get another swarm....


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