Oxford Bees

Two swarms, but neither for me

Submitted by will on Mon, 24/06/2019 - 19:44

Today I caught two swarms. It must be the weather.

Helen from my bee group is on holiday so I caught a very large swarm from one of her hives. It was tricky to catch. The swarm had settled around the trunk of a tree which had lots of stiff little branches. It was a little over 2m up.

Shaking the swarm at all was difficult. I upset the bees so much that I had to walk away for a while. Bees are supposed to lose interest if you walk under a tree. Not these bees. I swatted away with the low hanging branch of an Ash tree but they weren't having it. I was stung and then I found a couple of bees had found their way into my veil. I had to kill them. This was not my best work.

Somehow the shaking got the Queen into the box. From there I propped the box near the tree and let them sort it out. Five hours after the catch the tree had been deserted and most of the bees were in the box. They weren't happy when I sealed them in.

Top tip: use a box which opens on its shortest sides. If you try to seal a cardboard box along its longest side it may open and allow a few bees out. I can see them outside the window now. I hope they find their way home.

The second swarm couldn't have been simpler. I was offered a ladder when I arrived. I banged the swarm into a box from its branch in an apple tree. I let them settle a bit. I could see fanning. I could also see a lot of waggle dancing which I think meant that they were discussing a nest site. I shut the box sooner to end that conversation. Done.

This swarm was from the site in Barton where I've caught several swarms before. They are from a feral colony which lives in a capped chimney. The colony has been there since at least 2016. Sadly my 3 colonies from this source all died in spring 2018 during the very cold spring weather.

One of our bee group took both swarms. I hope they thrive in rural Oxfordshire.