Just about 2 weeks ago Jay and I were in the yard taking care of the maple tree that we had chopped down behind the house, when we heard an amazing amount of buzzing and looked up to see a swarm of bees flying over the house. We dropped what we were doing and ran over to the hive.
We still had bees. A lot of them. Some returning with full pollen sacs, so likely not our bees!
I knew though, that it was swarm season, and our bees could go at any time. The spring had been pretty crappy with the nice weather not exactly lining up with my schedule so I could get in to examine the hive. I’d only really opened up the hive twice this spring and they would likely need to expand to a third brood box this year. I clenched my teeth as 45˚ weather set in for the next 10 days as I KNEW I needed to get back in that hive and check for signs of an impending swarm.
Yesterday the cold and rain finally broke for good and we had a GORGEOUS 64˚ and sunny day. I ducked out of work early hoping to get some gardening done. When I pulled in the driveway I saw this:
The bees were about to swarm. It was unmistakable. The hive is always busy when the weather gets warm, but not like this. Sure enough. Within 15 minutes the had settled in a cluster less than 10ft away in the raspberry bushes.
So much for gardening.
The first problem was that I didn’t have anywhere to put them! I could capture them pretty easily but then what? I called my local bee supply store. Then I remembered they’re only open Thursday and Saturday. I tried Cluck! The urban farm supply in providence (even though at last check they only carried 8-frame equipment, not 10.) Closed on Mondays. Then I remembered Leeway’s. The hardware store up the street. I had noticed that they had a limited selection of bee keeping equipment the last time I was there.
Limited is definitely the right word. There’s a starter kit, a deep brood box and accessories. I really didn’t want to do the whole kit, that seemed more that what I needed, since I have a smoker, veil, gloves, hive tool etc. so I picked up a the deep box and headed home to try to figure out how to do this.
Though I had no hive stand I was moderately successful in fashioning something together with a cinder block, some bricks and a piece of plywood. Then I needed to retrieve the bees. Bees are most docile when swarming. Keep telling yourself that when you’ve never handled a swarm before and you’re standing in a thicket of raspberry bushes with a bucket of bees.
I’ve moved the bees into a temporary home made of a brooder box and some plywood. With any luck, they’ll stay put for a little while while I get a real hive together for them.