Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sw-armed and Dangerous

I got a call from my club's swarm co-ordinator that there was a swarm in someone's backyard in my assigned coverage area. Finally! I was about to settle in for the evening but now I had a swarm to catch! Minor matters like dinner and drinks would have to wait. Honey, I'll be back before dark...

I called the contact and he described them as a golden orb hanging on a tree branch that could be reached easily and were about 7ft off the ground. Good grief could this get any better? I got called earlier this year only to discover ground bees. With gas at $4.00/gallon you can't afford to not ask the right questions.

I had everything ready in my garage. I just recently bought one of the John Jones Super Deluxe Swarm Device and a long pole. I also had a poor little nuc box that I have been carrying back and forth between my bee yard and home in the event I discover a swarm out there. Of course my beekeeper tools always move with me in case someone calls me needing help or an actual swarm call comes in.

The only thing I did not have that I wish I had brought was a syrup sprayer. I had the homeowner make up two cups of 1:1 for me and I soaked a clean cloth into it and wetted down the bees from below which is difficult to do by wringing the cloth and shaking it up at the same time. That worked to some extent but a sprayer would have been the bees knees and I wouldn't have syrup in my face and glasses! I would have been able to spray down the entire cluster and knock them off right into the swarm catcher and into the nuc. Without it I was having to wait for the bees to stop flying and knock them off into the container of syrup and then scoop them out and into the nuc -very time consuming. I got most of them this way though.

I also ended up doing some minor tree work and cut down a piece of the dead tree they were hanging on. I then cut out the piece of the tree where they were hanging and building comb and dropped it into the nuc box also. I hope this will make them feel at home. I stuffed the entrance with a piece of cloth and took the cloth soaked in syrup and tossed it into the nuc to give them something to nibble on.

I brought the nuc home, constantly looking out the rear view mirror for the sight of bees flying around indicating that the nuc box might have slipped off the bottom board or tilted over. I made it home with no problems and placed the nuc on the deck of my house. I removed the cloth from the entrance and a few minutes later they were out exploring the new home. I checked again just before dark and I could hear them inside hopefully abuzz with delight with the cool digs and fresh syrup I gave them.

You can see a short video here of the swarm:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYM-53gv5GE

1 comment:

Mark Childrey said...

Great post Steve! Got my first swarm last week in Danville, Virginia. With gas so high, and Danville being 24 miles away, I asked the person if she could send me a picture -- and yep, sure enough, they were honey bees! So far, so good! They have adapted well to moving south to the Tarheel state! Good luck and keep us posted!