Catching our first swarm!

One of my scouts ran home to tell me he’d found a swarm of bees this weekend.  They were spotted flying in and out of the small hole in the concrete block that covers a Telstra access point in the footpath.

The swarm visible through the access hole

Being only a few doors away from our house we were pretty certain they’d only just arrived so we decided to try and relocate them to one of our own Warre top-bar hives.
Step one was to phone the all-knowing Bee Mentor for advice.   I wasn’t even sure how I was going to get the bees from the hole into my hive, but the hope was that the swarm was clustered on the underside of the cement block and could be easily brushed into an open hive. We gathered up our bottom board, hive box and hive lid, beesuits, tools that might help lift the block and a soft brush and set off down the street.
All three sons were involved in this adventure; second son had found the swarm and led the party, oldest son donned a beesuit and assisted in the relocation manoeuvre and youngest son was chief photographer.  The spectators were the builders on site over the road who kindly shared tools and provided us with a mini crowbar to lift the cement block.  Seeing that they’d stopped work to line the roof and watch did generate a bit of performance anxiety.
We carefully planned exactly what we were going to do to avoid dropping the heavy cement block by hesitating too long!  We placed the open hive on the entrance board and moved it close by.   Using the crowbar we gently eased up one side of the slab and peered into the dark hole to see the bees hanging under the access hole like a cone-shaped pineapple.   We then lifted the slab and placing the hanging swarm over the empty hive we gave it a gentle bump onto the box in order to ‘dump’ the swarm down into the hive.

Transferring the swarm from the concrete slab into the hive

Brushing the last of the bees down into the hive

The majority of bees were now clinging to the inside walls of the hive box and some flew up around us.  We tilted the slab to gently brush those that were still clinging to the underside of the slab into the box before removing the slab and replacing it.

Bees trying to return to the Telstra hole before the lid is replaced

The hive before adding frames

Adding frames to the hive

The frames that we added to the hive have recently had comb cut from them.  Remaining at the top of the frames is the skeleton structure of the previous comb which will serve as a guide for the bees when they begin to add their own comb.  Some of the frames also had an inch of ‘starter strip’ wax foundation as they were new frames and had not yet been used in a hive.

Once the lid was on the hive the bees began to gather at the entrance.  The slab was now back in place and the entrance hole blocked.  The hive sat close to the blocked entrance hole and the bees gathered outside on the footpath began to slowly move into the hive.

Moving in

We sat on the grass watching and waiting while the bees slowly settled down and only a few still flew around outside the hive.  Eventually I covered the entrance and walked the hive back home to the new site, which sits at least 10 metres from our existing hive.  Once in the new position I opened the entrance and let out the eager bees.  When I lifted the lid to add a ‘quilt box’ on top to help insulate the hive I could already see the bees hanging in a cluster under the frames.   This hopefully indicates that the queen is present and uninjured and at the centre of the bee cluster.

Next day the bees could be seen coming and going from the hive, a couple bringing back pollen and one or two crash landing in front as if heavy with nectar (I hope).  Unfortunately we have had overcast weather and a lot of rain so the bees will be struggling to forage.  As soon as the weather clears I am going to ‘borrow’ frames of honey and brood from my existing hive to help along this new colony, as suggested by Bee Man.

The bees in their new home enjoying a long-awaited burst of sunshine

The excitement I felt this time last year when my first hive was delivered is nothing to how I feel having caught this swarm myself!   I hope their new home suits them and that the weather is kind and helps them get established quickly.

1 Comment

Filed under Garden, Garden Projects, Honey bees, Productive pets

One Response to Catching our first swarm!

  1. You are amazing – doing everything you do and now a blog! Hats off Bee xxxxx yolande

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