So . . . it's been 2 weeks today since the bees arrived and I set up the 2 hives, and today I learned another valuable lesson - bees don't always do what the beekeeping books say they should be doing!
So much has happened in the past 2 weeks I can't seem to keep up with it! It was two Saturdays ago that I went with David to pick up the bees from Bob and bring them back to their new home. Then last Saturday, I opened the hives for the first time and took a tentative peek inside to see how things were going. Looked good to me, although I though I might have seen a couple of queen cells on one of the frames. Thursday Jeff the bee inspector came and we spent an hour going through the hives and checking things out. Sure enough - there were 4 queen cells, but we cut them out and thought things were OK. Put the honey supers on both hives and patted myself on the back for how smoothly things were going.
Big mistake. At 2:00 this afternoon I was in Target shopping when I got a frantic phone call from hubby saying there was a "tornado" of bees coming out of one of my hives. Not good. I rushed home to find that about half of the girls from the blue box had made a very pretty, but not so easily reachable swarm about 20 feet up in a live oak tree in the front yard. We tried the regular ladder. We tried a neighbor's roofing ladder. We tried a combination of roofing ladder and pole saw. Then I realized there was just no way to reach the swarm and cut the limb without either having the whole limb come crashing to the ground or ending up in the emergency room with a broken something, or both.
So . . . as I sat on the ground watching my bees hanging from the tree, I had a thought. If it's not possible to bring the bees down to a container, why not bring the container up to the bees? A few minutes later, I had a 5 gallon plastic bucket attached to a long bamboo pole with duct tape.
My friend Garrett McCampbell came over to help, and he and I held the bottom of the pole together and guided it up slowly until it was just under the blob of bees. Then we whacked the tree limb with the bucket and ended up with a bucket o' bees, and a whole bunch of really mad bees raining down on our heads. We slowly lowered the bucket to the ground and dumped the ones we caught into Garrett's hive, then went up for another bucket full. Five tries later, we located the queen and put her into the hive! Like magic, the other bees instantly recognized that she was present, and within 30 minutes every one of them had gone into the box to be with her.
David Hall, my bee mentor, showed up about 6:00 with a hastily assembled nuc box and all of his gear (he SO deserves a trophy or something for all of the help he's given me in the past 2 weeks) and about an hour later we had transferred all the bees from Garrett's hive into the nuc box, added a frame of brood from the original hive, put on a lid and feeder, and set the box up beside the other 2 hives.
Which just goes to show you that you have to be VERY careful what you wish for - because didn't I just say to somebody recently that I couldn't wait to get some more hives?!
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