Friday, June 22, 2007

Swarm patrol

Yesterday, Tim called and said he'd received a swarm call...and I got to go along for the adventure!
We drove to burien, which is about 20 min south of seattle and found in someone's front yard a soccer ball sized swarm of bees. It looked like a big pine cone as it was in a conifer. Thank goodness it was at eye level, so we didn't have to climb any ladders or anything.
Tim came prepared with his bee vacuum and a plastic bucket that he'd put vents in the sides. I held the bucket under the swarm while Tim attempted to shake the branch so they would fall in. This apparently didn't go as planned, according to Tim, as we only got about 25% of the bees this way. The bee vacuum came out. The 5 gallon container was quickly filled...we knew we had the queen when other bees were glomming onto the out vent of the vacuum...her pheromones were being emitted from the 5 gallon jar. We had to take a couple of breaks to change batteries on the vacuum and to let the bees calm down again so we could catch as many as we could.

Once we'd ran out of batteries, we piled everything in tim's van and headed back to his house where he planned on putting the bees into an empty hive. Or, so he thought.
After maneuvering down the steep hillside in his backyard to the hives, he opened the hive that he intended on using, only to find that some other bees had taken up residence! Surprised and wondering where to put the swarm, he injected it into a "weak" hive and said the queens will duke it out. Tim is very rich in bees now.
Swarm season is coming to an end, so I am glad I got to tag along on this one.


Anonymous said...

Hey Krista, good job and nice detail. I am new to Bees. Built a complete hive - 2 10 frame supers and a short super. I just finished building a vacuum similar to yours. I've read a LOT on the internet and think I am ready to go catch another swarm my first one - before having ANY equipment was nice enough to hang out in a cardboard box for a day while I built the hive, but left a month later... I pestered them too much in my awe :) One thing I can not seem to figure out... if I get the queen and swarm into my hive - should I somehow lock the queen in? and if so, could you suggest how? If not, I assume she just gets happy in the new hive and stays?? (well, if I don't pester them next time by looking in all the time ;)
Great pics and nice write-up!! Thanks! Rick

krista said...

HI Rick,
thanks for the compliments on my site.
Sounds like you have learned alot and are ready for the bees!
As you can tell, I am pretty new at this too, but can offer a bit of info from my experience and feedback from my mentor.

As far as keeping the bees from swarming, you can't really lock the queen in, nor would you want to, in my opinion. My mentor says sometimes some bees just swarm regardless of what you do and you can't control it.
However, once you have the bees in the hive, you need to make sure they have room to grow into else they will swarm..and, check on them regularly to ensure there are no signs of swarming- look for swarm cells and "delete" them (my term for it- which seems less personal than "squash it" or "kill it".)

feel free to email me to collaborate in your adventures!