If you would've told me in January that I'd have nucleus colonies and swarms coming out of my ears, as well as a bountiful honey harvest underway I may have been skeptical. This swarm was captured on Palm Sunday. It was hanging on a peach tree branch above my apiary. Another "God sign" and blessing. This came just days after I sold several nuc's to my friend George.
There it was, hanging just a few feet above. Capturing this swarm gave me a chance to try my handy-dandy telescoping swarm bucket that I built for about $22 all told. A rock solid investment. Worked like a charm!
The swarm bucket is awesome. I can now collect swarms easily that are 18 feet off the ground, or less. After spraying them with sugar water, I shook them into the bucket. Then, I dropped them into a nuc box with 3 frames removed. I was certain the queen was in there, and fanners told me that was the case.
I use an old bed sheet to help the bees quickly march up and into their new home. I took a couple of trips back to the tree with the swarm bucket and just dumped them onto the sheet. In they marched.
And then, once a baggy feeder I put atop the frames started leaking? Well, OUT they came en masse! I heard them swarming back out in a haste and knew I couldn't stop them. Lesson learned on the baggy feeder (I put too much syrup into the baggy, and since this little box had a solid bottom, they did not like that one whit. I know I like to sweeten the deal, but this is what overdoing it will get you.
So, this is what it looked like in just a few minutes: swarm #2 for the day, same group of bees on the same branch. I was REALLY breaking in my new swarm bucket! Swarming bees have their bee guts filled with honey before they take off for the initial flight, so my adding food immediately was an ill-fated move. Live and learn.
Not exactly knowing why they'd swarmed out again, this time I took further precautions. I installed the bees in a different location in my apiary annex (I'm expanding by nucs and swarms!) into a full size deep hive body. I gifted them a cross-combed, food-filled Duragilt frame from the freezer. I knew keeping it around for just this reason was a good idea.
Definitely got the queen (again) on this second capture. Look at all those bee butts in the air signaling she was inside.
I also took a page out of my friend George's book and did the "McAllister technique": I put a queen excluder atop the bottom board first, then the hive body on top of it. That way if the colony and queen decide to up and leave, she will be preventing from leaving and they'll all return back to into the hive, which is EXACTLY where I want to keep these beautiful bees.
This was my 10th swarm capture in my bee yard, and 11th overall. I only had 8 colonies coming out of winter so this was definitely a gift from God. I keep making bees, and selling them earning some extremely valuable income as I'm still looking for my next career move following a corporate layoff. And the good Lord above keeps giving them to me. I'll take each and every gift with a big smile on my face, and many thanks lifted up. This sure is a fun and rewarding way to go!
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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