Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bees Everywhere!

We have been blessed with an unusual event! Out one bee hive has exploded into 4 now!

Last week it produced a swarm... and we caught it in the bush by the driveway, used our improvised bee hive vacuum to get them into a hive safe and sound.

The remainder of the hive spent the rest of the week hanging out behind the original hive. "bearding" it is called, when most of the bees come outside either due to overcrowding or high temps. We watched them for a few days and they seems peaceful, just hanging out outside the hive.

The original hive, after the first swarm, with quite the "beard" going!

Then, this morning (sunday) we witnessed another swarm arising from the same hive! It swarmed up and quickly landed on the same post, same spot, as the one last week. We had not even taken time to move the second hive from the position where we caught that first swarm. The second swarm didn't seem to care, they just collected up on the post and formed a really nice mound of bees.

While we were preparing to collect those bees, an emergency arose in town that we couldn't miss. Hesitantly we loaded up and ran into town for a couple hours. On the way home we were hoping and praying that the second swarm was still sitting on the post. As we pulled into the driveway, there were bees everywhere! Was the swarm moving? Had we missed it?

But it didn't look right... something was up...

Sure enough, the second swarm was still mounded up in the same spot quiet as can be, but the air was filled with bees! We parked and ran over to investigate. To our surprise, there was yet another swarm in progress! A third swarm from that one original hive within a week, two on this same day! This swarm was settling on the back side of that same bush!

Ok.. so.. change of plan! We had built a second bee hive vacuum to collect the second swarm, but that swarm was mounded up on one side of the post in plain sight. It could be captured with just a bee brush and a box. So that's what we did! After moving the hive from the first swarm out of the way a bit, we swept the second swarm into a box and checked for the queen. She was in there! We could tell from the action of the worker bees. So that swarm went into a cleaned and waiting hive just a few feet from the original hive.

By this time the third swarm had settled into the bush and was quietly waiting for us. The many branches made it difficult to extract, so we decided to use the bee hive vacuum that we had made this morning for the second hive (confused yet? we were too!) We moved the taped up hive into position beside the bush and connected the vacuum. This hive was a newer design and much better sealed, with a larger entrance hole. It worked even better as a vacuum box! We had the entire third swarm into the hive within about 20 minutes. After removing the tape and vacuum, it was clear that the queen was in this hive also.

Success! We now had 2 new hives along the driveway and a newly populated one next to the original hive that birthed them all! Four healthy hives from one, in less than a week.  Not bad!

Here are the two hives, housing swarms #1 and #3 along the driveway.  The bush in the middle is the now infamous "bee catcher" bush

Closeup of swarm #1 in their hive. If you look closely you can see spots where the nice white comb shows through the bees inside. There is about 6 or 8 combs built already.

Swarm #2 in thier hive, picture taken from inside. They are hanging out in the front left corner... planning their new home. 

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