Thursday, June 25, 2015

BEEKEEPER'S POT OF GOLD! by Beekeeper Fred

My plan for today was simple;  add a super to two hives and start up another hive using a surplus nuc.  The first super was added with no problem.  While adding the second super I began to hear a dull roar from a nearby hive.  Rather quickly the sky was filled with a swirling cloud of bees.  Surprisingly, the swarm was coming out a topbar hive I had started on May 4th with a package.  After what seemed like an eternity (really about 5 minutes) the cloud condensed into a nearby tree about 35 feet up.

Unfortunately, it was beyond the reach of my 24 foot swarm catching pole.  After surveying the situation I decided it was time for drastic action.  I raced home and got my chainsaw and swarm catching pole (and camera).  With a few judicious cuts the swarm dropped to  about 20 feet and was now in reach with aid of the swarm catching pole.  (This tree was of no consequence; a wild boxelder.)

                                          Swarm Catching Pole extended to branch with swarm

By jamming the basket of the swarm catcher into the bottom of the swarm body bees are shaken loose and fall into the basket.  The basket was then quickly lowered and the contents poured into the top of the waiting hive.  This operation was repeated about 10 times and by then I had about 60% of the swarm in the hive.  I still was unsure if I had captured the queen, because the bees in the tree swarm weren't following down to the hive.  At any rate I decided to put the inner cover on the hive.  Bees were entering and leaving the inner cover center hole at about the same rates.

The swarm in the tree had by now gathered into a smaller cluster so I had another go at them with the swarm catching pole.  I simply poured the basket contents on to the inner cover.  By luck I noticed the queen on the outside of the inner cover and gently brushed her into the center hole.  After that the bees began to march into the hive and the tree cluster began to shrink.  Feels good to be on the winning side for once.  Now I need to find a home for that nuc!


Gerard Schubert said...

Great story! Nice shot of the swarm. So how'd you cut a branch that high up? I had to let a swarm go that was about 40 feet up in a birch.

Fred Ransome said...

As I said the tree was a box elder; commonly considered a junk/pest tree. It was in an out of the way place and will be cut up for firewood this fall. The swarm was considered more valuable than the tree.