Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Deja Vu Bees

It's funny how we can recognize our own kids even if they're way off in the distance. It's their shape, and the way they move that gives them away.

And so while wrapping up my day at the bee yard I looked off into the distance and a good 50+ feet away I saw a brown blob in an apple tree.

I looked at it for a minute thinking it did look the shape of a swarm. The only way to know for sure was to check it out. Within 20’ of the tree I saw Them. Oh I recognized that mob of bees. They were mine. A huge swarm that I had twice before tried to capture. I called them The Absconders.

I should turn around and walk away. Forget them. It was well over a week ago that I had last put them in a hive only to find them gone the next morning.

So I did what any true blue beekeeper would do: I called home to Dad to bring the extension ladder. And hurry! I had a swarm to catch.

While I waited for the ladder I prepared. Gloves, socks over pant legs, button down sleeves and veil. These bees could be mean. Dad arrived and geared up. We put the ladder right under the swarm.

They were all collected on a single branch, thick as thieves. The plan was not to shake them this time. I’d already tried that twice.

Instead I’d cut the branch and carry it down and then gently ease them into a hive.

This swarm was way too big for a nuc box. Dad held the end of the branch, coming up the ladder a bit behind me. I had the large clippers to cut the branch which was a good ½” thick.

The dilemma was that I needed the power of both hands to operate the clippers. I planned to half cut the branch and then slow cut the rest while I held the end— Suddenly, SNAP!

The branch broke and fell. Thousands and thousands of bees went up in the air.

Damnit! I was swearing a blue streak. I nearly got this swarm and then the darn branch broke too soon.

I couldn’t believe my luck. Once on the ground the bees were in clumps in the grass and plants.

It was an impossible mess to try to brush them into a hive.

In frustration I took a hive and set it right up to the largest clump of bees.

I was able to brush a few clumps and pour them in the hive. Many had climbed into the nuc box and so I poured them into the hive.

Then I stood back and quit.

What else could I do?

I remembered a scene from A Man From Snowy River when the cowboys are chasing the wild horses and the horses ran down a steep ravine, leaving the cowboys behind. The leader said, “Well you can bid the mob good day.”

It just wasn’t meant to be.

Then unbelieveably I noticed the bees were home scenting on the stoop of the hive. Some were walking inside.

Somehow, some way I must have got the queen in the hive or they had had enough of being wild bees and were ready to be housed.

The deep was filling up fast because there was so many. Now it was full dark. I added a super too and left them. Morning would tell all.

They were there the next morning. Some were still on the grass (I had covered them with a nuc box to protect them).

The guards were scenting on the front stoop and within a short time everybody was inside. Lifting the lid I could see both the deep and super were exploding with bees so I added another super.

[Photo - I placed a frame in front of the hive so the bees wouldn't have to struggle in the grass.]

I then took a frame of eggs from another hive and inserted it into this one.  Also one of the supers I gave them was what I call a "sticky", wet combs taken out of my freezer from last year.

I've visited them daily and they've settled down.  These might actually be nice bees after all.  I mean I raised them didn't I?
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