Yesterday I boxed up the ninth swarm from my own colonies. This was a much smaller swarm, and was close to the hive from which I think the previous swarm came. The timing is about right too, with almost a week elapsing since the prime swarm came out. Having finished, I got a call to tell me that one of the colonies that I manage had swarmed.
Today I had arranged to do some scything tuition, but had told Andy that I may have to pause to house a swarm. He picked up the peening pretty quickly, which was good, but by late morning the sound of bees just kept getting louder. So I suited up, as did he, and we walked around the field looking for a swarm. There wasn’t one, but with thirteen colonies and a strong nectar flow, everywhere that you went sounded like a swarm.
I was pretty sure that at least one colony would go, so I did the rest of the session in my bee suit, and checked regularly. Again, no swarm. So we finished up, and I gave hime some lunch, and then, as he was interested in permaculture and Forest Gardening, I showed him around. On the way back down the hill, I saw some scout bees checking out the empty hive left strategically ready to use in the other field, and pointed them out, only to see more bees checking around the hive. No sooner had I said that there must be a swarm out, than I spotted a dark shadow on the far side of an apple tree, and had to say my goodbyes, and deal with the swarm. As I went back up the field, it was obvious that this was a big swarm, so I went and got my camera for a few pictures.
A late night preparing more hive equipment last night, has left me with an evening relatively free. So, with a bottle of red open, I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts about swarm seven of the season. I took three pictures of the queen of this swarm, but the intelligent autofocus of my camera was not intelligent enough to get those shots in focus, and after three of the ‘girls’ trying to sting my hands, I wasn’t going to risk taking my gloves off to focus the thing manually.
Yesterday I housed my sixth swarm of the season, and far from becoming routine, the process threw up a number of questions, including, do swarms travel with a spare queen? In the end, I think I can answer that, but at the time it was an interesting question to mull over, whilst observing the swarm taking up residence.
It’s nearly midnight, and I’ve just come indoors, after assembling more hives, to house my growing collection of bees. It’s not my choice to work so late, but the lack of rain means that I have to water my potted plants in the morning, my newly planted trees in the late afternoon/evening, and in the middle of the day I’m trying to catch up with my other chores, whilst maintaining my swarm watch. During my first round of checks yesterday, I saw one swarm emerging , and settling, which is pretty normal. What I wasn’t sure about was the noise and activity around the hive that was probably responsible for my first swarm of the season.