Bee strong

Last weekend we had some last minute action in our backyard.  We had noticed that the bees were hanging out in the entrance holes just outside of the hive for few days prior to that.  They were out there over night, when our days were getting a little warmer, but not hot enough for trying to cool the hive inside.  In the morning they were still there, and there were a lot of them looking like a beard, when they do that in the summer to get air circulating.  Something was up.

We were thinking they were going to swarm, but Mark had given them more space about a week earlier.

We were just watching them and trying to understand as we get started on our backyard beekeeping days, and complete our first year with our first hive.

Friday night Siena and Lucas noticed there was a swarm in our backyard, in our neighbor’s tree, and our bees in the entrance holes, were gone.  They had swarmed.

We didn’t know what was going on.  Mark had surgery earlier that morning, so it was me and the kids and the bees to be dealt with.

I couldn’t do anything that evening, so we just waited and hoped they wouldn’t go anywhere.  They don’t move at night, and early on Saturday it was too cold for them too.  It was looking good for us.  We wanted to keep this swarm so we can start a second hive.

I didn’t think I could do it by myself, so once again, Matt from our local bee store, Bee Thinking, came to the rescue. Remember last year? We did all we could to help, but he did the hard job.  I know Mark was dying to help, I know he wanted to do it himself.

But I’m glad Mark kind of listened to the doctor’s instructions.  I know he didn’t say ‘don’t get swarms off the trees this weekend’ so I was glad to see he didn’t climb on the tree.

It was our first real spring days so I know Mark wanted to be outside helping and gardening.  And Matt said swarming is a sign of a strong hive.  I hope it’s true.

Here is Matt getting the bees in a short video:

It all worked out. Matt, gave us his time to get these bees off our neighbor’s tree, and put them safely in a new hive.  This time we got a Warre Hive, because we didn’t have a big enough space for a top bar, and Mark wants to learn more about the bees and work more with them.

I want to learn more about how to work with these bees. I’m excited to learn, now that we have two hives. Oh man. I hope we are not over our heads since we haven’t even harvested honey from our first box!

It was so much fun to see how Matt got the swarm.  We had friends over to see the moving of the swarm. The bees are so busy, such incredible creatures.  I never tire of seeing them and learn about them and all that they are capable of doing.

This is the hive, after Matt put the bees in the bottom boxes, he then put the bars about half an inch apart.

Then puts this burlap cover on top of the box.  Here we are waiting for all the bees to go in there.  In the bottom of the box is the entrance to the hive.  And we are still missing the top two boxes and the roof.

Here, we are just waiting.  There were quite a few bees still left on the tree, and we left the hive close by to make sure they have a chance to get in here.  It wasn’t more than 15 minutes after Matt was done shaking the tree and setting the hive with the bars, when all the bees came in from the tree.

Photo by Mark.

We had these bees in a new hive with sunshine through most of the day, our best spot, we thought.  But not even after 24 hours, Lucas saw them getting out of our hive and leave.  I guess they left us for a better place.  We had an empty hive after all our efforts that weekend.

But that’s nature. There was nothing else we could have done.

Next day, Monday, another swarm from our hive, that we didn’t see left.  And then two days later, another.

This third swarm I saw.  I have never seen it before.  It was loud, crazy, bees flying everywhere in a dense cloud for about 20 minutes flying in circles, all of them, they knew what they were doing, until they settled in a spot to stay for a while.

This swarm was huge!  It seems it was at least double the size from our first swarm.  From far away and the shape they made in the tree you could tell it was huge!

You can see few seconds of this amazing trip to this treehere.

When Mark got home that day, I showed him the new (third) swarm, and he thought he could get them. We went to our neighbor’s to find a (very) tall ladder.  Then to our other neighbors (with our bees) to ask if we can get in her backyard.  She asked “did something come over the fence?”  Well? As a matter of fact “yes, about ten thousand bees!”

Mark still with his work clothes, a (warm) raincoat, beekeeper’s vail, and  gloves, he climbed up the very tall ladder.  Over 20 feet high, I’d say.  Still with instructions from the doctor not to lift much wait or do exercise, he thought beekeeping at high altitude wasn’t prohibited.

This husband of mine is amazing. First time getting a swarm, at about 20 feet up high in a not too big of a tree to be holding the ladder from, with wind moving the tall branches, over a fence and surrounded by about ten thousand bees?  And he’s up there.

He went up there, 20 feet high, to the tip of the ladder, five times.  I think at first he didn’t get the queen when he shook the tree, because the bees left the box pretty quickly.  We think, it took few times to get the queen in our box.

After all his efforts, we came back home with a heavy box full of few thousands of bees, and hopefully, with a queen.  Mark sets the box with the bars.  Half inch apart.

And the cloth.  Phew!  And now wait.  I can say, that five days into having our second colony on this Warre hive, we still have them.  Hopefully these little, busy bees, like their new house this time.

Our old hive, looks much emptier but they are looking strong.  No more swarms.  They seem to be enjoying the sunshine and the blooming flowers of the last few days.  And we are enjoying them all, and learning each day more, as we have them and share our backyard.


9 thoughts on “Bee strong

  1. Glenda Miller April 30, 2012 / 5:01 am

    What an exciting adventure!

    • naturallyfundays : marcela April 30, 2012 / 8:05 am

      Hi Glendie.
      Yes, it has been an “extra” adventure for the week! We are still checking on them daily to see if they “look” happy or if they are getting ready to leave. But so far so good.

  2. Kelly April 30, 2012 / 7:16 am

    Amazing! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. rosyhands April 30, 2012 / 1:43 pm

    This is incredible! Thanks for taking so many pictures and detailing the entire adventure. I love the picture of the blossoming comb forming against the glass. – Katie

    • naturallyfundays : marcela April 30, 2012 / 2:05 pm

      Hi Rosyhands. It is incredible. I think bees are just amazing, and I have so much to learn about them, but do enjoy seeing them do their work and how their days are. Incredible little critters.

    • naturallyfundays : marcela May 2, 2012 / 9:26 am

      Hi Catherine, yes they are. We’ve had so much fun watching them and learning about them. They are amazing!

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