Monday, May 14, 2012

And now for something Pleasant

I was still sore from stings and I admit a bit miffed that my own hive swarmed the other day and then after I caught them they absconded.

After a busy day I was really pleased when I got an email from Laura.  An email about a swarm.

She said there was a swarm of bees at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  They were hanging in a tree and had been there three days.

She knew bees were having hard times and she was concerned this swarm was in danger. 
I got the email after dark so there was nothing I could do that night.  The next day I was fully committed with appointments which I could not change so I wasn't free until late afternoon the following day.

I asked her if it was baseball, or basketball in size.  The answer was basketball.  I asked her to let me know if they were still there the next day.

They were!

Laura had assured me the bees were within reach, hanging on a branch only about 6' off the ground.

I headed for the truck and loaded up my step ladder.

My friend Janice had been making fun of my recently converted swarm catching truck, complete with broom, hockey stick, deeps, supers and nuc boxes.  She had been singing the Ghost Busters theme the last time she saw me.

The swarm was just as Laura described and easy to find.  What a nice medium swarm - all nicely packed together on a branch within easy reach.

I set the nuc on the ladder and then lowered the branch into the box.  I clipped a couple small branches and opted to not cut the main branch.  It'd take a bit longer to get them off but it'd save the branch.

The bees had been through three days of cold night temperatures and rain.  Various sized sticks and chunks of wood littered the nicely mowed ground.  It was plain to see that children had been throwing sticks at the swarm.  Lord only knows what else they'd had to endure.

It was already after 6:00 p.m., and a cold wind was blowing.  As soon as I lowered the branch into the box the bees started to climb off.

I could tell these bees were different.  They were grateful bees.

I decided not to do any shaking and get bees airborne.  There were pedestrians going by every couple minutes on the path behind me and I didn't want to frighten anyone.
After holding the branch for a few minutes there were only a few bees left and I shook them into the box.  Then I picked up a few strays that fell to the ground.

[Note how swarms often leaving clumps of beeswax on the branch they were clinging to].

The bees were climbing over the combs in the nuc and I could tell they were content to settle there where it was warmer and out of the wind and rain...and children with sticks.

Several pedestrians came at the last minute wanting to see the bees again before they were taken away.  They all expressed thanks that the bees were going to be given a good home.

One man even brought his camera.  After all, it's not every day one gets to see a swarm.  I had brought my camera too!

Once home I transferred them to a hive for the night which would be warmer than the cardboard nuc box.  I shut them in though so that they wouldn't orient to my yard since that was just a temporary location.

Early the next morning I transported them to the bee yard and set them up.  Within an hour they were doing orientation flights in front of the hive.  The next day they were full of activity, coming and going.

I put my ear to the hive in the fading light of evening.  No sounds of an empty hive this time.  All I could hear was a happy hum.

Yes, these were very pleasant bees indeed. 

Mt. Pleasant Bees.
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