So we are beginner beekeepers, following Beekeeping, A Practical Guild book by Richard E. Bonney, going to local beekeeping meetings and connecting with the locals to learn the art. We started with two hives this year based on advice given by locals that you will have a higher success rate with two hives. Well… it has been quite a journey. Within the first couple of days we had 1/2 of our 1st hive drift and join the 2nd hive. Thus we learned about drifting and placing boxes at least 45 cm apart. To prevent drifting we learned the direction of the hive entrances should be varied and lines of hives should be broken up with landmarks such as trees or shrubs, or even painting the boxes different colors.
As the season progressed we learned about bur comb, hive management and everything else under the sun. We made rookie mistakes, mixing up boxes and placing them in the wrong order. Although at the same time we learned that everyone has their own way of doing things and it’s a work in progress. One thing we did not expect was our bees to swarm.
We count our blessings because my husband got to watch the whole process, calling it to my attention when they were several feet above the hive. They were rolling out of the box and heading higher and higher right into a tree branch about 35-40 ft high in the air. A few quick phone calls and we had friends rolling in to help us catch the swarm. One advantage we had going for us is that my husband as a side job professionally cuts down trees.
The chainsaw was sharpened and we had our game plan. The branch they had swarmed to was within a 20 ft reach with a pole saw and a very steep hill-side. We gently cut the tree laying the branch within reach. My husband supported the branch containing about 5 pounds of bees while I took the pruners and cut the branch free. We still have a very steep hillside to navigate down/slide down with bees in hand, a trip across the yard and delivery into their new home in the garden in front of us.
I would lie if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. We hit a couple of bumps coming down the hill but they settled down pretty quick. We made it to the garden and shook them into their new home. I hope they are happy and that our bee keeping days will run a little smoother. We are so thankful that we were able to see the process AND saved our swarm from making a new home out of our reach. Very thankful indeed…we were headed off for a mini-vacation the very next day and could have missed the whole thing.
The lesson learned is ANYTHING can happen, read…read…and read some more. Education and hands on learning go hand in hand.