Bees, Episode 1

On December 18 2020 we removed a swarm from a compost bin on our friends’ property. We’d had to make a second attempt after a botched attempt the previous day.

The mistake we’d made on the first day was that we didn’t remove our nucleus hive (the nuc) from the swarm’s original location: while we were inside having lunch, the queen must have decided to go back to the compost bin, so when we came out to fetch the nuc we discovered the swarm had returned to its first home!

This time we made sure that we closed the entrance to the nuc when almost the whole swarm had transferred to it, before the queen could change her mind.

Day 1. Preparing the nucleus hive for the transfer from the compost bin. We opened the bin and brushed the cluster containing the queen onto a plate, which we dropped into the nuc.

Our first attempt – the bees are clustering around the entrance, now that the queen is inside, but this placing of the nuc on top of the compost bin was not a good idea, as the nuc was too close to the original location!

If we’d had an entrance like this to our nuc, we could have avoided the problem – this entrance has a limited diameter which prevents the queen from escaping.

After most of the swarm had transferred, we closed the entrance and moved the nuc about 10 metres away from the compost bin. Graham is brushing away the remaining bees that are trying to enter the nuc.

We then taped up the entrance to be sure none of the bees would escape when we drove them back to our property! We live at least 10 km away from our friends, so there was no danger of the bees returning to the compost bin.

Unfortunately there was nothing we could do about the remaining 100 or so bees who buzzed and clustered around another compost bin on the property, vainly looking for their swarm. As they were a risk to our allergic friend and her dog, we sadly had to exterminate them. They would have died within a week or two, having nowhere to go.

When we got home we installed the nuc in a shady spot at the end of the garden.

About julia

l love drawing and printmaking. I also love communicating. And I love meeting people who care about these things.
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