A Charming Swarm

Excitement on the Bee Haven today! As I was sitting in my room perusing through magazines and contemplating today’s plans, I was buzzed back to reality by quite the loud hum outside. I’m thinking, “the bees are loving this weather!” I glanced outside and see this:
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Up until now I had stayed out of my mom’s bee venture simply because the idea of getting stung did not appeal to me. It still doesn’t. However, as fierce as a swarm may appear, bees are at their gentlest in a swarm. And that’s because they have packed up their belongings (aka honey) and are primarily concerned with finding a new home and securing their honey. They also don’t need to protect their brood as it gets left behind with the other 50% of the colony that decides to stay.
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Taking the plunge today would kick start the season with some frenzy and it would definitely help out the sole swarm catcher (aka mom). I raced to get some gear on. Here’s a picture of what I managed to assemble – two nets around a floppy hat and gaiters over my rubber boots. Paranoid of having one of those little buggers crawl under a layer and then getting stuck, I sealed off everything with duct tape. If I did get stung, so bee it.

Catching a swarm can be tricky. It can also be surprisingly easy. It really depends on where the bees decide to settle. I think it was our lucky day. After 30 minutes, they attached themselves to a lower branch of a Garry Oak tree about 12 meters from their original hive. They will stay put for a few hours  or a whole night until the scout bees come back with great news of  a permanent better home. Before that happens though, we need to convince them that the house they are about to fall into, is cozy and suits their needs.
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You don’t have to do this, but today we stuck a cardboard box over top of the frame to act as a tunnel. Now the scary part. We gave the branch one big shake…and whoooosh, they dropped like a ball of bees, landing mostly in the box.

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Smooth operation and I’m still stingerless. Success! Now if only we knew that the queen was inside. If she was outside of the box or still up in a tree branch left behind, the entire gang would eventually fly back to her and we’d have to start all over again. So make sure to leave no evidence behind.
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Finding a queen for me at this point, is quite a challenge. Look at this picture and tell me if you see a queen?? Or begin with differentiating between a worker and a drone bee.

 

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