Yep, my ladies left today. They left just as the first guest arrived to celebrate my son’s birthday. Their timing, the bees not the guests, could not have been more inconvenient! I greeted the first guest who promptly said to me, “Oh, you have a hive back there, my neighbor has bee hives too. Wow, it looks like they are swarming.” Before I turned to look at my hive, I first thought to myself “what does this girl know about bees” then I thought “what is that loud sound coming from the back yard?” I turned to look at my hive and sure enough there were bees swirling and flying in front of the hive, higher up than I had ever seen before. This was no orienting flight! I had to reply to the young lady, “I believe you are right, it would appear that they are swarming!” I walked toward the hive and noticed that the sound that I was hearing was not coming from the hive but rather from somewhere else in the yard. I walked away from the hive and toward the back of our yard and stopped where the noise was the loudest. I looked up into a tall ash tree and could see thousands of bees flying among and throughout its limbs and leaves. The noise was like nothing I had heard before.
I called my mentor immediately who told me that it would take a while for the bees to settle in the tree and suggested that I enjoy the birthday celebration as much as possible. She assured me that we would figure out how to get them once they were settled. The bees slowly began to form on one of the limbs, first covering it in length, then moving closer together forming almost a football shape, 30 feet up. We continued with our birthday celebration but it was only minutes after the last guest left that I was on the phone with my mentor once again. She explained that since it was getting to be late in the day (it was 4pm) the bees should stay put until tomorrow morning. We made a plan for her to come to my house early and help collect the strayed group of bees.
My husband is a contractor and usually has ladders of various lengths at our house, well except today. He wasn’t exactly happy about it, but I kind-a-sort-a made him drive 20 minutes to his friend’s house to borrow an extension ladder. I am sensing that my husband may not be feeling the same level of love for the bees as I! At any rate, he came back with a 28 foot ladder which we leaned against the limb below the swarm. He climbed to the top to tie the ladder in place so it won’t slide sideways tomorrow when we attempt to harness the bees. After he climbed down he told me it was fascinating to see how they had gathered around the limb and told me that he would climb back up and take some pictures if I would get my camera. Perhaps he does have a little love for the ladies after all. I will try to post pictures tomorrow. I can’t figure it out tonight.
Tomorrow morning we shall meet with my mentor at 6:30 am at which time we will decide how best to approach the task at hand. I will admit that I am a little nervous about risking life, anyone’s life, to scale a ladder 30 feet up to knock down tens of thousands of bees who do not want to be “captured”. Of course being a new beekeeper, I do not have extra hive parts that are necessary in order to re-hive a swarm. I am very lucky to have a mentor who is so willing to share her knowledge, time, and now materials.
I will let you know of tomorrow’s outcome!