Jo and I were sat at home this evening, having just eaten a lovely meal she’d cooked up. The TV was on and we were catching up with the most excellent BBC programme, ‘Ghosts’ (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it – it features the excellent original Horrible Histories cast). I digress… Suddenly Jo spotted a post on the We Are Pleasley Facebook page featuring a swarm on a garden wall in Newbound Mill Lane.
Quick as a flash we grabbed the suits, a cardboard box, sheet and headed off in search of the swarm so we could hopefully rehouse them in the new hives in the Orchard apiary.
We tracked them down, and sure enough they were clumping around their queen in order to keep her warm. Gently we gathered them off the wall and into the cardboard box, wrapping the sheet around it and popped it into the car and headed back to the Orchard.
When we arrived, we made a ramp up to the hive entrance with the sheet and shook the bees out onto the sheet. Normally they should climb up into the hive, but it was getting late, and they were probably exhausted from their day of swarming (they usually swarm between 12pm to 4pm, so by 8pm they’d have been tired out and wanting somewhere warm for the night). So, having put a feeder with sugar solution into the hive, along with some lemongrass essential oil (bees love this particular scent), I decided to risk it and shook the sheet out into the top of the hive. If the queen was there, she’ll be in the hive by now and hopefully like it enough to stay for not just the night, but permanently, setting up home, laying eggs and helping the colony with honey production.
Bee swarms are natures way of helping keep bee colonies reproducing. When you see a swarm of bees the important thing is not to panic. Bees don’t sting unless they feel their life is being threatened, and then they sting and die. When they are swarming, they’ll have previously filled up their honey stomachs with honey from their mother hive, ready for a potentially long distance journey. They’ll be stuffed and too fat to bend their bodies to sting (generally). Call your local pest controller who will have the contact details of any local beekeepers interested in re-homing collected bee swarms.
Let’s hope the swarm decide their new hive is to become their home.
Thanks John Fuller-Sutherland for the Facebook post alerting us to the swarm.