Community spirit

On Monday, we had a top bar nuc of bees to give away. Reason being, after splitting one TBH (which as Sue found did not prevent swarming but no matter, plenty left), we perforce ended up with one sub-colony using the “back entrance” of the hive which meant their flight path took them directly across the garden. Awkward.

So we transferred them to our TBH nucleus / bait hive and began ringing round to see who wanted a 7 bar nuc, several kilos of stores, with a new queen.

Now the fun began. We’d assumed it would be easy to give away…

(The following may be slightly wrong but a lot happened rapidly – my phone never seemed to stop ringing!) First we asked Helen, conveniently near and beeless. “Er no thanks just caught a swarm this morning.” Helle, also beeless. “I’ve just accepted a swarm from Linda.” As Kevin is only into black bees we then contacted Harry, who said yes enthusiastically, but then Helle contacted us to say Linda had told her that given the choice between a small swarm and a strong established nuc, take the nuc woman!!! But now we realised that Helle (and Harry / Melvin) only had Warres, and asking Gareth confirmed this meant that the nuc’s top bars would need to be reduced in length to fit the Warres. Is your head spinning yet? Mine was.

Now, we have experience of converting frames to top bars as our very first bees were converted from a National nuc to fit into a TBH by the infamous “chop and crop” method; and the thought of sawing bars with combs of anxious bees attached while their brood chilled made me quail. Then Lynne pointed out that Gareth had loads of TBH’s – the nuc could surely just be dropped into those – so we asked him and he said yes,  he had an empty hive and he’d come over and pick it up. And indeed he did, an hour’s drive each way and a big thank you to him. Meanwhile Helle got Linda’s swarm and now I think we all have some insect friends except Kevin.

Apart from the funny side of this panic filled day (“yes! No! Yes! No!”) wherein I promised bees to about half our members then retracted the offer, the thing that stands out to me is the marvellous way everyone helped each other out, donated free colonies left right and centre, drove an hour to physically help others. I’m just overwhelmed by the sense of support and community. Hugs all round!

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5 Responses to Community spirit

  1. lindarowan says:

    Yes, everything has settled down again. But for a while it was frantic – and Gareth deserves his nuc for all his help. I had reconciled myself to losing the swarm in the silver birch, but then it took off to a more convenient tree, settling 10 feet up. Gareth used his amazing bottle contraption to catch them, and then we had the most wonderful sight of running them up a sheet into the box, thus seeing the queen. I’m still trying to entice the first swarm out of the wall because they are hanging around in a cluster outside even though the queen is inside. Very odd.


  2. Paul says:

    Maybe they’re not hanging round in a cluster because they’re thinking of swarming, but because they’re bearding – too hot or too humid in the wall? But I think that is something that happens to crowded colonies, not new swarms.


  3. lindarowan says:

    No they’re not thinking of swarming – they already have. They’re the ones who left the hive and arrived back at the wall. So there must be something wrong in the wall – or maybe they’re busy spring cleaning before they move in again. If the colony there died in the winter there might be a lot to clear out? Who knows, I really haven’t a clue what they’re up to.


  4. lindarowan says:

    I had this response from David Heaf – anyone know how to do a trapout?
    Linda wrote: “Do you think they’re doing a lot of spring cleaning inside
    after the demise of the previous colony”

    That would normally be evidenced by bees carrying particles out and dropping
    them on the ground. A swarm given old comb often creates a pile of stale
    pollen pellets and other debris below the hive entrance.

    Linda: “Or are they uncertain and thinking about moving on?”

    That seems unlikely. Maybe the swarm was so big that they cannot all fit in
    at once.

    Linda: ” They are flying to and fro, at times moving more into the wall and
    other times they all seem to be outside.”

    If the wall is in full sun most of the day and their being outside most
    coincides with the sunshine, it could be bearding due to overheating inside.

    Linda: “We did try to get them and ran them into a new Warre but they went
    back onto the wall, so I presume the queen is still in there. ”

    That seems the most probable explanation, but if they are in little groups
    in various places it could be a case of a lost queen. Are they behaving
    purposefully and bringing pollen in?

    If they have to be removed from the wall a trapout rather than a cutout
    seems most appropriate.


  5. lindarowan says:

    It seems I’d have to put a box with comb and brood nearby so they could produce a new queen (the present colony do have queen cells against the window). And funnel them out so they couldn’t get back. It means getting a comb out of the hive. I’ll have to think about all that!


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