Tuesday, 7 June 2016
Not going to plan
On Sunday, I found our first swarm on the season in the hawthorn hedge on our allotment. It was a bit of a challenge to get it into the swarm box as we had to cut the branches from around it to get to it. We did eventually get it into the swarm box only to discover a 2nd swarm a couple of metres further along the hedge. It was a bit more accessible but we had to use a bucket to catch it. We turned it upside down over the swarm and them used the smoker to drive the bucket upside down on a sheet and waited for the bees on the outside to go inside.
We did not have to wait long for some action. Suddenly the whole swarm took to the air and flew off in the direction of the local woodland. It is a frustrating experience watching a swarm fly to freedom like that. They sell for £200. And if they are not sold (we haven't yet sold a swarm) they are new hives that go into honey production next year.
Alas, the news was not so good with the other swarm. When we transferred it into the hive we discovered that a huge number of bees had drowned in honey. We had not seen anything like this before. We did some research and found that when the swarms get too hot (Sunday was a hot day), the bees regurgitate honey which they use as a coolant by putting on their heads. The drawback is that lots of them drown. I am not convinced the swarm has survived. There are some bees around the hive but I am about to do a check to see if the bulk of the bees are still alive.