2011 - 09 - 25 Swarm season begins, Metropolis splits!

So, it's been about 4 months since I checcked the bees properly, apart from just noticing that they were still quite active over our winter. Any warm-ish day (say over 15C...) and they were out working, and there are plenty of flowers around here I'd reckon, even over winter.

I've just been to Lithuania for 3 1/2 weeks, and knew that the weather would be warming up around when I got back, time to get amongst them again... I saw a couple of bee-related things while I was over, but more on that later...

 So, I got back from O.S. late Tuesday, and thought I'd better check them all out this next weekend. Saturday was still quite cool, but today looked good. So, I was sitting in the kitchen around midday having a cuppa and doing the crossword, when.... well, there was this massive buzzing sound outside, really loud....those bees are taking off....I ran out side, and this is what I see.... the hive on the left is Metropolis, and all the older bees are absconding with the old queen...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVNj5pfY0P0


video


The swarm is swirling around the yard, and after 20 minutes or so, starts to settle, near the tap in our back yard. It could have very easily gone off over the fence to someone else's backyard, but luckily they stayed local. They apparently take off, send out scouts to find a better spot, then take off again, leapfrogging  20 - 100 metres each time until they find a spot that the queen is happy with. I think it probably reflects badly on me that they swarmed at all, we responsible bee-keepers are supposed to monitor and prevent swarming.

 In amongst the branches of a small bottle brush, they find a place to prop. This is my chance to get them back, if I don't they'll probably keep heading away to somwhere better like a hollow log, the neighbours letter box, or someone's air-con duct....better to catch em now.


Above, you can the the wire mesh chook-fence and the base of the tree. that's a sleeper at the bottom, covered in bees. About say a basketball or bigger in bees.

 Not my best angle. I did not get stung on my arse on this occasion, just a couple on my arms and one on my leg.... I maneuver a spare box I have as close as I can, under the main mass of bees and scoop as many as possible on to the top of the frames . (Frames full of drawn comb, left over from last years harvest. Luckily no sign of hive moth or mould, a fluke that this was ready to go really...)

video

The problem here is that there is no clear way to get the swarm into a box, they were tight around the base of a bush, and scattered throught out the branches,  abig ball with the wire fence and bush going through it.
Time to bust out the swarm-master 2010, last used collecting the ill-fated Dairy Hive, refer below.
That time the carnage of bees was immense, and I think the queen was killed in the process. The hive lived on for a while then petered out, queenless.
This is how the swarm buster works, you build a screen into the bottom of one of those 10 litre white buckets with a press-on lid. Attach a hose through the top. Throttle down the vac to the point that it only just sucks up the bees.  A smoother bee-scooper pipe would be gentler on them, I think... The mesh catches the bees, so hopefully they dont get sucked into the machine. I saw something like this on youtube somewhere, thought I'd give it a go. Whisting noise.

Sucking up those bees...they were still hard to get out, took 15 minutes or so, lots of nooks and corners where there were large pockets of bees.
Bucket O' bees, dump it on top...



Smoke em down...
and there they are, or most of them, and hopefully the queen is in there, and hopefully she survived the 'Whistling black tunnel of death and dismemberment'. The stray bees all went to this box over the hour of so, so this tells me they know that the queen is in there, they follow her pheromones .....
That's Jazmina above, giving me a hand .
Somewhere in the middle of all this, we sang in a concert, ....
Massive bee carnage.  After a couple of hours I emptied the bottom of the box out in front, this got rid  of most of the dirt and branches that get sucked in along with the bees. I reckon maybe up to about 10% of the bees got killed in this process.





And a stinger I found in my arm .

++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++
STING TALLY:
Jonas : 6
Adrian : 0
Edis : 1
++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++
Later that day I checked the "Other hive" as well, much less dramatic, but that's another story .

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