Thursday, July 29, 2010


A swarm in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, but a swarm in July isn't worth a fly - so the saying goes.  Well, I just got myself a fly!  Yesterday while I was at work I got a call from Abigail about a swarm of bees on her block near 21st and Fitzwater.  I couldn't leave work until 7:00 so I was hoping the bees stayed put and fortunately they did.  My first chance for a swarm capture - I was pretty damn excited.

I loaded up the car with equipment and the family and headed across town.  We arrived and saw the smallish swarm about 12 feet up in a Callery Pear tree (it's the light brown colored mass at the top of the picture) -

 Here's a close-up -

I only had a 6 foot ladder which wouldn't be high enough.  My lovely wife had the idea of pulling the car underneath the swarm and putting the ladder on top of the car.  Then, helpful neighbors Abigail and Chad grabbed a perfect sized piece of plywood to put under the ladder to give it some extra stability.  Here's the set-up -

 The swarm was very mellow (as they usually are), it's an amazing site to see this roiling mass of bees hanging out on a tree limb.  Swarms are usually not aggressive because they have no home to defend and, before they leave their home hive they fill up their bellies with honey for the trip into the unknown and this helps keep them calm (like the post-Thanksgiving dinner kind of feel).   So all I had to do was clip the branch off and drop it into a nuc box that I had handy.  The scariest part wasn't the bees but being on the ladder, on top of the car.

Here are the girls in the nuc.  I would say that 95% of them stayed on the branch as I dropped it into the box.  The few that were flying eventually made their way into the box on their own.


Again, none of the bees were at all aggressive, they paid virtually no mind to any of the humans nearby.  I had about 50 on my hand at one point but they were just hanging out, not trying to sting me.

So my job for today is to get this swarm set up in a new home.  There is a good chance that they will not make it through the winter because they won't have enough time or population to build a strong colony but I figure it's worth a try.  Worst case scenario is that maybe they will draw some nice honeycomb for me that I can use in the future.

Here's helpful neighbor Chad, first time wearing a veil.  Thanks again for the help!

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