As I came home at lunch time I received a call from Cliff. He had spotted another swarm, this time on Phil’s plot. Promising him I would be down, I yelled to my husband and headed back out. When I got to the site, I found Cliff and he showed me where the swarm was. It was in one of Phil’s trees. Fortunately, it was quite low down which made it easier to get the swarm box beneath it.
Cliff managed to find two boxes and I balanced the swarm box on the upended box tower. It was somewhat precarious. Hoping for a straightforward catch, I shook the tree, hard. Some of the bees fell into the box but there were still lots in the tree. I shook it again. As I watched, the remaining bees flew around the box and the tree. None looked like the queen so I was hopeful she was in the box. However, after half an hour, the bees were collecting on the side of the box and not going in. To make matters worse, when I opened up the box, there wasn’t a single bee left inside.
Then I noticed that there was a cluster of bees on the tree again. Clearly, I hadn’t caught the Queen yet. Using the bee brush, I swept the bees off the tree and sprayed the branches with diluted Jeyes fluid. This removes the Queen’s pheromones from the tree, stopping the workers coming back to find her. Again the bees settled on the outside of the swarm box and refused to go inside.
By now, I was beginning to despair of getting the swarm into the box without drastic measures like cutting down Phil’s tree. The next place the bees congregated was on a blackcurrant bush. With Cliff’s help, I used a pair of secateurs and cut the branch which the bees had settled on. Quickly, I deposited the bee branch into the swarm box and put the lid on. Holding our breath, Cliff and I spent the next fifteen minutes, watching to see what the bees did. Thankfully, they began to go into the box. Once the first few had crawled in, others followed more quickly.
By the time the bees were all in, Cliff had headed off home and Steve had appeared armed with huge amounts of frames for the hives. I helped him haul a hive lid and a crown board across to the Community Garden to build yet another new hive. The bees in the swarm box on Phil’s plot were moved to be with the other hives. I watched nervously as Steve transferred the bees I rescued yesterday into a proper hive. He opened up the lid, walked the box over to the new hive and tipped it upsidedown. Bees went everywhere! Without my bee suit, I decided to beat a hasty retreat home for a very late lunch!