We noticed lately that digs had become a little crowded for our honeybees. When we opened the hive a couple of weeks ago, they were living cheek-by-jowl. And they've been bearding at the entrance a lot, even in bad weather. So, we knew a swarm was imminent. Today dawned clear and sunny; the bees decided to make the most of it.
I know I've said it before, but it always bears repeating: A swarm is a miracle of nature, and if you're lucky enough to witness one, it's important to stop a minute and experience it. Tom is home on spring break this week, and I don't have class till this evening, so we were both home to experience this one. It was awesome. It always amazes me how fast things move - from decision making to clumping all together on a nearby branch in under ten minutes. The hive mind in action.
This time, the bees settled in a much more accessible place; in the ceanothus bush behind the train shed. Reachable for humans and tools. We called my dad, who has an empty hive ready to be filled, and he raced over with a cardboard box and his bee jacket/hood. We all suited up and proceeded to cut some branches from the ceanothus, and then just deposit them in the box. Easy peasy.
The bees fly around for a little while but eventually settle in to the box, because the queen is in there, and they want to be with her. Then it's just a matter of taping up the box and quickly taking it to the new home. At that end, you shake the box of bees into the new hive, and they settle in pretty quickly. It's surprising how easy this process is, if the bees are in a place you can reach them.
I hope the bees do well in their new home!
Now, Tom and I need to take advantage of our emptier hive and get in there and clean up some old comb and take out some honey. That's tomorrow's project.