Friday, July 28, 2017

The Great Bee Rescue

Tragedies happen, and on a farm they seem to happen more frequently than elsewhere!

We had a tragedy this week. While working outside we watched a good sized "twister" come through (the type that has cost us a couple of coops and a pool in the past). It was an awesome sight, kicking up dust and "things" as far as the eye can see into the sky as it drifted across the ground. Things get re-arranged quite a bit as the raw power of nature is unleashed on a small scale.

But then.. it drifted right by the bee hives! Sure enough, one hive lifted up and was dropped on it's side into the driveway. Bees, comb, wood all spilled out across the driveway.  Those bees were ANGRY to saw the least! We decided for everyone's safety it is best to allow them to calm down before acting out a rescue.  So we let them be for the rest of the day.

This is how the twister left the hive, surrounded by angry bees!

Upon inspection the next morning, half the bees had gathered up into a swarm on the inside edge of the original hive, still on it's side. The other half was bust raiding the honey from the spilled combs. We were able to get a closer look and made the educated guess that the queen was in the mound of bees inside the hive. So now was time to act.

In the closeup you can see the combs mashed into the ground upside down to the left, and a few bees gathered in the corner of the hive. 

We very carefully picked up the hive, bees and all, and placed it back on the legs, being very careful to avoid all bumps or jars that might upset them again. For the most part they accepted this and kept quiet. Then we pulled what top bars we could one by one and placed them back over the hive to cover the bees. They seemed to accept this also.

Then the tough part. The combs were actually upside down, a mound of wax and honey resting on top of the wooden top bars. Not Optimal at all! It was possible to pull a few out without disturbing the mound, but most actually had comb still attached. For these, we had to twist the bars to break off the comb and then slip them from under the comb. This usually left an half inch or so of dripping honey and damaged comb, which we cut off and placed into a bowl.  We were able to recover enough bars this way to cover 3/4 of the hive.

Last step was to replace the wooden hive roof to provide cover and shade. It was damaged but fit ok.  Then we placed the bowl of honey on top of the hive so the bees could continue cleaning up the mess and recover their food source.

Here is the almost finished scene. The box in the driveway was placed over the broken comb to provide shelter. 

To prevent the spilled comb from overheating in the direct summer sun, we placed a cardboard box or two with multiple holes over the pile of comb. There is a slim chance that the bees might be able to hatch some of the larva from this odd arrangement. time will tell!

If you come for a visit over the next few days, do NOT stop along the driveway in front of the fence. Keep your windows up.  Hopefully everything will be resolved in a week or so.

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