Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Saturday, 3 July 2010

When Good Bees Go Bad...

We've been swarm chasing again...first there were two calls from within our town (one in the eaves of a 2-1/2 storey house, the other in a lilac bush) but both times the bees moved on before we got there. The third call was was hubby's own bees!
Oddly, we had been to check the hives early that morning (Canada Day) and things seemed fine...although we both noted a lot of space in one box. As the sun was shining, we put it down to the bees being outside gathering pollen. We were barely through the door at home when the blueberry farmer called to say he had spotted a black cloud of bees moving across the field. Oh, oh...that's not good. We loaded the gear and went back to check. Sure enough, the bees had landed on a low branch of a tree across the field from the beehives.
Hubby shook the branch into the nuc box and the bees began trailing in. He spotted the queen and it seemed an easy capture.
When we returned later that evening to close up the nuc...the bees were all gone. We searched extensively in the fields and trees but they were no where to be seen. Shoot...Still hopeful, we left the nuc for overnight. Returning early the next morning, still no sign of the bees so we removed the box and headed home. Not an hour later, the blueberry farmer called again to say the bees were back in the same spot as yesterday, except this time on the ground instead of in the tree. It's hard to get bees up off the ground.
Hubby spotted the queen in the centre of the pile:
We began the slow task of brushing and moving the bees, almost one at a time. We spread a white sheet under the box to make it easier for them to discern where they were headed. Bees don't see terribly well.
When most of the bees were on the sheet, we picked it up and "poured" the bees gently into the nuc. There were still a great number of airborne bees, so no sense in closing up the nuc until everyone was inside.
We left, but made numerous trips back and forth checking to make sure things were on track. Last night, they were transported safely to the main apiary and set up in a permanent box. We really don't know why they swarmed, as there appeared to be ample room in their living quarters. Perhaps these were anarchist bees who weren't happy with the politics of their particular hive - who knows... It was a frustrating two days trying to capture ones own bees back...


  1. Quite an interesting time Karen. Very informative and fascinating. Guess those bees just wanted a blueberry pie up front!

  2. Really interesting!
    Do you normally deal with so many swarms?
    It is amazing that you have no protective gear on.

  3. I can imagine your husband saying "put that darn camera down and help me" while you snap pictures for your blog. I'm so glad you did, though. Are these the bees that had swarmed earlier and you captured?

  4. Wow -lots of adventures with bees.. As a child, I used to catch bees in bottles with holes in the covers with clover and water - never kept them for longer than a few hours.. Always been fascinated with bees and love your stories about your bees.. maybe when I retire, I should get some bees and hives. Only problem is out here in the country, I am afraid they would attract bears!!!!! Bernice