Easter weekend already! How did that happen? And a sunny one to boot. Things are looking up.
The bees are working hard, there’s lots of blossom to feast on, and the promise of more to come. Who needs chocolate when you’ve got nectar.
Today we had our first swarm call. It always gets the adrenaline going. How big will it be? Will they be easy to catch? Will they like their new home or will they buzz off again. Bees! Always expect the unexpected.
The swarm was in the next village, so not far to go. Only a small swarm but they were tricky. Once you get the queen bee, the other girls will follow. Only today they didn’t. Today they flew off! Imagine my dismay. And the queen’s! But they were just being tricksy. They came back and we headed off to their lovely new home (the girls on the front seat of my mighty motor) and a nice buffet.
Not for the faint hearted, swarm catching. A simple process: get the swarm into a box, wrap it up in a sheet, and transfer it to your apiary. Easy as that.
When you get them to the apiary, you place the sheet and the box on the floor next to their new hive, unwrap it carefully, and invite them to view their new abode …
Once the queen approves of her luxurious new palace, her loyal subjects rush to follow her into the hive. It’s fascinating to watch and I don’t think I’ll ever find it less than mesmerising. The mini hive – called a nuc or nucleus – has frames of wax foundation for the bees to draw their honeycomb on, and a feeder full of sugar syrup as a ‘welcome home’ banquet. It takes about 30 minutes for the bees to enter the nuc, not bad considering there’s just one tiny door …
So there you have it: the first swarm of the season successfully rehoused, safe in their new home. Living the dream. Welcome to the team, ladies.
While the swarm settles in to their new home, we’re ready and waiting for the next swarm call. Just like the Thunderbirds. Only less strings ..