Monday’s warm weather (29/7/2012) encouraged a swarm of bees. The bees congregated in a conifer bush adjacent to a public footpath. I noticed the swarm during the early afternoon and decided it would be to everyone’s benefit if I captured it.
I only needed two pieces of equipment: a cardboard box and my smoker. I placed the cardboard box above the swarm because bees have a propensity to move upwards. I gently put puffs of smoke below the swarm to encourage them into the box.
Half of the bees went into the box the other half went onto the exterior of the box facing the centre of the hedge. This proved to be problematic! So I had to do a little hedge trimming around the bees on the exterior of the box, and smoke them down and into the box.
Once the bees were in the box there was the dilemma of whether I could leave them until sunset. During the day the foraging bees would be going back and forth from the colony. So if I took the cardboard box full of bees away mid-afternoon, the foragers would return to a missing colony and just congregate back on the hedge where the queen had been. As such, I couldn’t take to box away until sunset. However, the cardboard box was on a prominent spot next to a footpath and I felt the risk was great that someone at some stage would give the box a poke or do something stupid and all hell would break loose!
So I stayed on guard most of the afternoon, with various members of my family bringing refreshments to me.
Close to sunset I got help from the Vale and Downland Beekeepers Association to move the bees. We removed the cardboard box from the hedge and placed it into a blanket, and wrapped it up. We took it back to an empty hive. To get the bees into the hive, a ramp was placed between the ground and the entrance to the hive. A blanket was placed onto the ramp and the cardboard box was give a single shake onto the ramp. The bees were encouraged up the ramp and into the hive through the use of smoke and scooping-up handfuls of bees to the top of the ramp. When the queen entered the hive the rest of the bees soon followed.
Tuesday 31st August. The swarm had spent its first night in their new home. The bees have a lot of work to do to ensure their survival through the winter. The main task for the bees is to make combe. The combe is the hexagonal wax compartments the bees make to store pollen, honey and to raise their young. The bees covert sugary nectar into honey and then sweat it out through glands on their side to produce wax. With the wax they make combe. The wet summer has hampered bees progress, so to give this new colony the best chance, I have begun feeding them with syrup. 1 lb refined white sugar to 1 pint of water.
Even with the best efforts, you cannot capture all of the bees from the swarm. Some of the foragers who returned after the cardboard box had gone have congregated at the hedge. I estimate there are 30 lost bees. The residual pheromones of the queen have attracted these lost foragers back to the hedge, but alas the queen has gone! Over the coming days the bees will disperse, and as the new hive is not very far away, it is hoped they will be reunited with the queen very soon.