Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Here come the girls!

If I were to blog in event order then you would be looking at photographs of our recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales but I've postponed that as the girls are here!

Now I'm no beekeeper but even I guessed, on waking to a beautiful late spring morning last Thursday, that bees would be swarming. Lunch time I received a telephone call from Jamie (my bee mentor and local swarm catcher) that he was up to four swarms that day and would I like one? It's not recommended that novices take on a swarm as you don't really know anything about them. They are after all antsy teenagers who have just left home but Jamie had one particular swarm in mind for me. They were from an experienced bee keeper who wants to keep his hive numbers down and they were quite docile bees. We arranged that Jamie would get them into a nuc box with five frames and deliver them that evening.

Nuc box and exploring bees
We took all the layers off the hive just leaving the brood box and put the nuc box containing the swarm on top, the entrances only a few inches apart, so that the bees could orientate  themselves. We then left them to it until the weekend.

On Sunday Jamie came along so we could put the bees in the hive. It was a fairly straight forward operation (although I still wrestle my bee suit - surely the most unflattering garment known to man!) We took five of my frames out and replaced them with bee covered ones.

First the roof came off

Lifting the first frame of bees
Frame two
Finding the queen
We didn't want to spend too much time on the transfer as it is quite disturbing for the bees but Jamie cast an eye over them and was quite pleased at the work they were already doing at drawing out the frames.  I had seen them coming in with pollen so we suspect that the queen is already laying brood. We did spot her so we know she is safe and sound.

There was quarter an hour or so of "who's moved the front door?" but they settled down quite happily and spent the rest of the day out and about.

The new front door
They do seem to be quite passive bees, they didn't seem overly bothered by the move or by Andrew taking photographs (he was only about eight feet away).  I was gardening quite close to the hive on Monday and made sure I didn't go across the front but I was ignored.

So there you are, the girls are here and the next time I will post some holiday snaps ( I promise Margaret!).


  1. Fascinating.I'd never seen a swarm of bees until just the other day, when one flew over the house. I wasn't sure what it was as the noise was phenomenal, then saw the swarm emerge from over the roof and fly off into the woods. I wish I understood what they were doing and why they swarm though! Enjoy your girls!

  2. If only I were there - they'd be tucked up in a hive! I agree they are very noisy. A decent hive will hold 80,000 to 100,000 and you can really hear them when you take the roof off.

  3. Like Kalba, we had the experience of a swarm flying over our roof terrace in France. It was hard to know whether to be thrilled or alarmed. I do hope we'll get a chance to meet your girls...and personally, I think you look rather fetching in your bee suit, coordinated with those dashing floral boots!

  4. You should be thrilled! They'll just go round you -honestly! Why don'y you both come to lunch and I can kit you up in the spare suit and you can have a good look at them?

  5. How exciting! We are very impressed. Round here, we just dodge blackflies. Looking forward to the updates.

    1. We'll send Mortimer over - he's great at catching flies!