Friday, June 10, 2011

Naughty Naughty Bees

Saturday we had storms and some towns outside London had hail.

Then early Tuesday morning another huge storm rolled in bringing high winds and fierce thunder and lightening.  They wind was clocked at the local airport at 102 kms an hour.  The airport is less than a mile from my bee yard.

We all missed our sleep that night.

By Wed I knew I needed to do a drive by the bee yard to make sure the high winds hadn't damaged the hives or caused problems.  I had a delivery to make and a meeting that night so I only had an hour.

This is what greeted me at the bee yard:

Hive #3 swarmed.  Oh I knew it would be them.  But God bless the little bees because they landed close by where I could easily see them.  And they were only 5' from the ground, easily within reach.

Wouldn't you know it, my limb cutters had broken the previous week.  I tried cutting the branches with a pair of scissors but they were too thick.  The only other option was to shake them. 

Originally I hoped to cut the branches and put them in the wooden deep but with shaking, I couldn't hold the deep with one hand and shake with the other.  I needed something lighter.

I had brought one of my cardboard nucs to leave in the yard .... just in case.  Well this was the just case!  I grabbed it, added two frames with foundation, lowered the branch into the nuc as much as I could and shook the branch.  (I only put in 2 frames so there was room for the bees).

Thousands fell in a huge clump into the box.  Others took to the air, circling.  I had on a veil and helmet and short sleeved shirt - no problem.  They were gentle.

I shook the other branches until I got as many as I could.  Then I set the nuc down on top of the deep.  I left the lid partly on and waited.  In moments the bees started putting their rears in the air, exposing their Nasonov glands and fanning out homing pheromones.  The nuc began to fill up quickly.  Within 15 minutes there were very few bees still in the air.

Then I put a moistened piece of paper towel on a corner of the screening on top of the nuc.  It was 36 degrees Celsius and very humid.  I knew the bees would be hot.  I was sweating buckets.

In the mean time I'd made a frantic call to Dad.  He came out to take over the delivery of some items that I was supposed to do that night.  That left me free to take care of the bees.

I decided to transfer the bees to the wooden deep while still at the yard.  Any bees that didn't want to transfer could then fly back to Hive #3.  I finally relaxed while the bees did homing scents again and the deep filled up.

I loaded it on the truck, leaving only a small keyhole open - I knew they'd get hot very fast and I wanted to get them situated as quickly as possible.

I warned Mom I was coming and a request:  Please set out dishes of water.  I've read that the first water source bees find they stick with--and I didn't want it to be the neighbour's swimming pool.  With water in a bird bath and some dishes  they'd be fine.
We set the hive with a southern exposure.  I took off the cover a moment to let out the extra heat.  Many bees crawled up for a few minutes and then gradually moved back down into the deep.

I added a hive top feeder.  I left them with an upper keyhole exit and half the entrance reduced.  It was too hot to reduce it more than that.

I'd used an inner cover as a base for the deep on the ride home and I set that out front so the bees could walk up home, which they did.

[Note the moistened paper towel outside the entrance - the bees were sipping water from it].

The bees on the porch put their rears up and scented for these younger bees to find the new entrance.

They weren't really naughty, since swarming is a sign of a healthy hive but they did get me going for a few hours.
I never did make it to the meeting.
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