Jonathan: Heading home after a full day of turnarounds at our self-catering cottages and a bit of grounds maintenance for good measure (it’s going to turn to rain tomorrow), I’m absolutely whacked and ready for my evening meal. But what’s this, Denise (who went back home ahead of me) driving like mad towards me …. ‘Bees swarming again!” I get home to find a dense ball of bees clinging to the underside of a garden bench – and not the type you can move, but with ‘planted’ posts, so no short-cuts there. 5m from hive A this time. They really mean business, don’t they?!
Nuc positioned on garden bench directly over the ball of bees, where some are on the edge of the seat. The first one goes into the nuc box, and they all start to follow. But there could be 10,000 bees there, and it’s getting late. I postion the nuc box roof (a very deep one) upside down under the ball, and apply smoker and tickle them with a goose feather. Great lumps of bees fall into the roof, and before long 80%-90% of them are in the roof. Roof carefully turned right side up and placed back on nuc box. Then just to smoke the stragglers out of the grass and up the leg and …
It’s now 10pm and the light is going and the nuc box has been closed up with a foam strip and placed in the position I’ll want the full hive in due course. I’ll leave them to get themselves organized over the next day or two, but I could do with checking that the nuc box is not too small for them. There’s sure to be a queen in there – or was, I just hope and pray she didn’t get injured or killed in the gathering up and in particular the placing down of roofs and such like.
At Hive A, where the swarm has come from, I’ve inserted a crownboard fitted with bee escapes in place of the Queen excluder, and once the super is cleared I’ll remove it. That colony has today lost far more than half its numbers, and it’s better that those that remain are concentrated down in the brood chamber rebuilding their strength, they don’t need our pantry to fill as well! There’ll still be those two other queen cells , along with a reasonable number of recently hatched workers, nurse bees and some foragers. but perhaps not enough to make them cast again. I think I’ll leave the bees themselves to decide which queen will rule.
I’m wondering what else I need to do – if anything?