I had a call from mum as I was at work today that there was a new swarm that had landed on one of the pear trees near the garden. So I called Kieran and he headed over to the farm to try and catch this new colony.
The swarm had very unhelpfully landed on the trunk of the tree, not a handy-shakeable branch. Kieran had to snip off lots of little twigs, and branches
Then Kieran found a large cardboard box, and taped it together to make sure it could hold a swarm. Using a willow stick, and a soft broom he swept the swarm into the box. It took several attempts, and time – allowing the swarm to reform once it had been swept off, but not all gone in the box, but finally he apparently got the queen in the box, because when the box was left upside down on the sheet the bees congregated inside the box, rather than back up on the tree.
Once I got there, in the late afternoon, the bees had been in the box for a few hours. We wrapped the sheet up and around the box, and carried it the few hundred metres up to the hive. We took a second sheet and made a ramp up to the entrance which is on the opposite side of the main entrance. We then laid out the sheet that the bees where in on top of this, and shook out the remaining bees in the box.
At first the bees were a little slow to figure out where they were going. The ramp was too steep, and although they were climbing, they weren’t climbing up the steeper bits (ie up to the top where the entrance was).
We adjusted the ramp so it was easier to climb, and swiftly a few were climbing. Suddenly one bee was inside the entrance hole, then it was a flood of all the bees swiftly cramming themselves towards and into the hole. It was a mad flood into the hive!
We watched the bees going in, and I thought I saw the queen (didn’t have my camera ready at the time) and we also saw plenty of drones, which is a good sign. The colony seems pretty strong in numbers, and I just hope they settle in well!