Here is the video of my husband and I retrieving swarm #2 two weeks ago. I propped up my iPad in a chair. It is not the best video production and I may have used the incorrect resolution in the uploading process, but it does capture the adventure! You will see that it was quite a windy day, the sound effects are dazzling (not really), and oh, if you listen to the audio, I may have uttered an inappropriate word when I spilled some of the bees. Sorry about that, it just slipped out and I just could not figure out how to edit the audio. At least I was able to figure out how to edit the length of the video from 25 long, long minutes to a mere 6 minutes! That said, feel free to cut it short 🙂
After my mentor, Linnea, left I examined the cell that we cut out that looked as if the queen died inside. I kept the cell because I thought it would be a wonderful show-and-tell for my students. As I poked and prodded at the dark end of the cell, I noticed movement from within the cell!! I immediately stopped poking at it! I could not believe what I was seeing….now what was I going to do with a very much alive queen bee?
First, I googled “How to keep a queen bee alive inside your kitchen?” or something to that effect. Of course, I got a variety of links! I read that one could keep a queen alive, inside, for approximately 3 days by providing water, warmth, and a little food. I quickly called Linnea, again. She suggested that I place the queen cell in a warm place with a nurse bee or two. I placed the cell in a mason jar along with a wet Q-tip, a piece of sugar candy, and a nurse bee who coincidently had come into the house on my clothes. My husband cut a piece of screening to fit the canning jar lid so that I could provide some ventilation. That done, I jumped in the shower. After only a few minutes, my husband poked his head in the bathroom and said, “The queen has emerged! Now we have a queen bee in the kitchen! What next?!” She was beautiful, long, slender and tan in color. She chased the poor little nurse bee around and around the inside of the mason jar. I covered the jar with a towel and placed the jar in a dark place, and then I went to bed.
When I woke the next morning, I was relieved to see that both the queen and the nurse bee survived the night. I had to go to work so I replaced the dry Q-tip with a wet one and tucked the ladies under a blanket for warmth. When I came home later that day, both were alive and well. I googled anything and everything related to queen bees, rearing queen bees, queen bees emerging outside of hive, etc. I found a bee forum in which there was a discussion thread that was the best match. Someone recommended letting the queen bee simply walk right into the hive. So…..dressed appropriately, I took the queen to the hive and attempted to release her on the landing board. She did not want to leave the jar, then she did not want to get off my hand. Eventually, I was able to place both the queen and the nurse bee on the landing board. Bees immediately surrounded the queen. I was thrilled! But then…..the bees began pushing and shoving her (yes, pushing her and shoving her is exactly what it looked like) away from the entrance of the hive and onto the side of the hive. Bees continued to walk on top of her but it did not look friendly at all. I was afraid that they would kill her right in front of me so I scooped her back up and took her inside. I called Linnea who explained that it was very possible that they were not going to accept her but suggested that I take of the hive cover and place her in the opening of the inner cover. Out to the hive, again.
I took off the hive cover and tried to coax her out of the jar and into the opening in the inner cover. She did not want to leave the comfort of the mason jar, nor did she want to leave the comfort of my arm. I was so worried that I might accidently kill her trying to place her inside the hive. Eventually, I was successful and watched her, with mixed emotions, disappear into the mass of nurse bees who seemed to surround her immediately. She was a lovely queen and I hope that she was treated kindly.
Sunday, Linnea and I will combine the first swarm with the original colony, look for the queen, and treat for mites. After several more days, we will examine the hive containing the latest swarm, check for a queen or the presence of a queen. I suppose at that time I will have to decide which queen shall reign “Queen Bee” as we combine the latest swarm with the original colony. And then……I will hope for the best. I hope to post some of the video of our latest swarm capture, soon.
Many thanks for wading through my beekeeping adventures.
Well,my intentions had been to update the very few people who are following my blog (many, many thanks for your support) about how the ladies have been behaving since their thwarted attempted to find better digs. However, it is funny how things can change in an instance. Yesterday, one hour prior to the time at which we needed to leave our house to check in at a hotel up the coast of Maine, in preparation for my niece’s wedding, the ladies……swarmed….again….from the original hive. They settled in the same blankety-blank spot as the previous swarm. Well, same tree, same limb but out further, still 30 ft up in a tree. Damn those girls!!! What do I need to do, create a sign that reads, “YOU, live here!” What DO they want…..foot rub, plate of honey nachos, a unicorn…..just want do they think they can get elsewhere!!!!
Heartbroken that I may be saying goodbye to the ladies, we had to leave for the wedding. How funny that I am attached to creatures who truly do not and will not every have ANY attachment to me! I worried about them as we enjoyed ourselves at the post-wedding festivities. When we got up this morning, I could not wait to get home but, alas, we headed to the morning-after-the-wedding brunch. I say that I worried, but I was resolved to the fact that they may be gone by the time we get home. My thoughts, and worries, were more about how the remaining colony would survive the winter.
When we arrived back at home today around 1pm, the cluster of prodigal bees were still hanging from a limb high up in an obnoxious ash tree. We dropped off our suitcases, quickly changed from our post-wedding brunch attire into jeans and bee suits, and made plans. I knew that my mentor, Linnea, was working until 3pm (I called her yesterday in a panic but she advised me to go, enjoy the wedding festivities because sometimes the bees hang around for several days before they finally depart the yard and as always, she was right.) I called the local bee whisperer, Karen, who said, yes it would be ok to “dump” the bees into a cardboard box until Linnea could provide me, again, with hive parts. She advised me to go to one of the hives and remove a frame on which there was honey. “Should I brush off any bees or shall I take bees and all?” I asked. You should brush off the bees because you do not want to lose anymore bees than I already have, Karen suggested. She also told me make sure that I gave them a wet sponge for water and some ventilation. Truly, never did I think that beekeeping was this involved…but I do love it!
I went to the hive, from which they once again deserted, and removed a honey super. Before I closed the hive back up, I evenly spread out the remaining 9 frames, at Karen’s recommendation. I am so very thankful to Linnea and Karen, who patiently answer my many questions.
I am digressing. I created a make-shift hive box in an old Xerox box. I cut a hole in the top and using some wire mesh Linnea had given me previously to make a robbing screen, my husband taped it in the hole so that they would have ventilation. I placed the honey-filled frame along with some sugar candy and a wet sponge inside the box.
My husband climbed up 25ft and, using the same home-made scooper we used 2 weeks ago, began the process of scooping and passing the fetch to me. Once handed the bag-o-bees, I dumped them into the cardboard box. The first time, I overshot and most of them landed on the blue tarp. Drat! The second and third time, I had better aim.
I think we got the majority of the bees but I really do not know if the queen or a queen was included. That said, a lot of bees are hanging around just one corner of the box, on the outside, fanning. So, perhaps the queen is in that corner, inside the box.
My mentor is due here soon at which time we will open the original hive, search for a queen. We will search for a queen in the cardboard box. We will then play the very difficult game of: Which queen do we keep and which queen do we……..well you know. Hopefully, we will return the wayward group from today’s thwarted trip back into the hive, treat for mites just in case that is the reason they left and then close the hive back up.
To avoid rambling any further, I will end today’s blog. I’ll be back to update you tomorrow, hopefully with some photos from today’s swarm retrieval.