Another hectic day makes me think back to April and thinking that I was getting ahead. Foolish. Again it was bees that took up most of my time. I also saw two queens within what acted like a single swarm, rather than two swarms. This is how the day went.
After my early chores, I headed out to a meeting of the Horncastle Area Permaculture Initiative (HAPI). We were continuing on with creating a permaculture design for one of the group, which has been the focus for this year. The session went well, but on the way home, I got a call from my wife to say that one of the colonies that I manage had a swarm out. Sowe suited up, and collected it. No serious problems. Access was difficult, and my colleague/apprentice had not put together another hive, so I had to put the swarm into a bait hive, with old comb in.
On returning home, I checked my apiary for swarms, dropped my wife at work, and went for another swarm check, only to find a swarm spiralling on the opposite side of the field, awhich I hadn’t checked last time. At this point, I wasn’t sure if this was a missed swarm taking to the air, or a swarm from the last of my hives left to swarm. I suited up, and saw that the swarm was settling, and dealt with them as normal.
The first thing that I noticed was that the bees were more agitated than normal for a swarm. Having cut the branch in which they had settled from the tree, I gently laid it on a ramp, and bees started to make their way up the ramp, and into the hive. In some places, I saw what looked like little scuffles between individual bees, but took no notice. As the bees made their way in, I saw a meduium sized, orange banded queen, in the centre group on the branch. A short while later, I saw what looked like a smaller black queen, trying to walk into the hive, and appear to be chased away, and fly up to the roof. A short while later, bees started to pour from the hive, and climb up the front of the hive. The dark queen tried to go in again, but flew off. I managed to get the dark queen into a tube, and put her into the entrance. With more bees leaving the hive, I decided to intervene, and started to lift bees off of the hive, and put them at the entrance.
At this point I thought that I may have been mistaken about the two queens, which I discussed in an earlier post , do swarms travel with a spare queen, but one lump of bees that I moved had a distinctly orange queen. This queen was mobbed at the entrance, and I started to get concerned, as there were some bees clearly not happy. With a few more scoops, and a little luck the bees eventually decided to stay put. When there were just a few bees left at the edge of the ramp I moved it away,only to see a few bees and an injured dark queen, who was clearly badly injured, and being ignored now.
What isn’t clear is whether two swarms had gotten mixed up, and because of my interference, had set up home together with one of the two queens, or a swarm had flown with a spare, or if I was mistaken about the orange bands.
I’ll be watching this hive with interest.
Meanwhile, I hoe that tomorrow I’ll get the chance to innoculate all of my potted plants with mycorrhizal fungi, using compost teas as the carrier.
All of the best