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What do I do if a swarm of bees turns up?

If you have a swarm of bees - DON'T PANIC. The first thing to check is if they are honey bees. If they really are honey bees then ring your local beekeepers association. For more details on how to check what you have got and get help see our swarms page.

If you live near to Bridport in Dorset then you can ring us on 01308 423808.

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Swarm safely hived

Amazing or what?!

Seriously, if you've never seen it you really must (unless you're not into bees of course!). We waited until 7pm. the rain was forecast but it was just the wind that was getting up so far but we thought it safest to hive then rather than waiting until dusk. Hopefully any stray bees would find the new hive. After all it wasn't far away - only in the next garden!

David carefully scooped the sheet up around the skep and tied it off at the top and carried it around to the hive we had prepared in our garden apiary. We then untied the sheet, leaving the skep in place, and, as it was windy, pegged the sheet onto the board that we had placed up to the hive entrance so there was a nice incline from the ground to the hive entrance covered with a smooth white cloth.

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Posted by sally on Saturday 24 May 2008 - 22:14:01 |printer friendly

Excitement ... a SWARM !!!

Well it was that sort of day - warm, a bit muggy, rain forecast for the end of the day. We should be on the lookout on days like this.

Then David noticed some bees checking out an old hive at the side of our house. Yes, one we really should have cleaned up but not of the same type as our lovely WBCs so it had been left at the foot of the "to do" list. Definitely scout bees and there seemed to be a few more - probably a dozen or so - an hour or two later. So, were these scout bees looking for their new home? Probably! So how near would they be? Quite close we thought so well worth a look around the village.

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Posted by sally on Saturday 24 May 2008 - 17:45:29 |printer friendly

Activity at hive 2

Well yesterday morning there was quite a bit of activity around the entrance of hive 2 - quite early in the morning, before 9am, which is much earlier than we usually see new bees on their play flights.  Later in the morning it didn't seem so busy.  Well we pondered what was likely to be happening in the hive.  It had been the remaining bees from which we took the artifical swarm almost two weeks ago. Well a queen could have emerged - probably Tuesday at a guess from our calculations so could she have been about to go off on a mating flight or just left?

Actually, what does happen when she leaves the hive for the first time?  Is she escorted or does she have to orientate herself at the entrance to the hive in the same way young bees do?  That's somethng else to worry about ... I mean, just how does she find her way home?!
Posted by sally on Saturday 24 May 2008 - 17:31:53 |printer friendly

Staying positive

Well they've all been flying well today and there's activitiy around each of the hives.  Lots of bees around the New Forest swarm of course who are now the earliest risers but then they are first in the sunshine.  So, rooting for the others and although a bit on the chilly side early and late in the day, it's been lovely sunshine.  Let's have more of that ...
Posted by sally on Monday 19 May 2008 - 22:44:41 |printer friendly

New Forest bees doing well but ...

Almost a week since David, Ken and Jill hived the New Forest swarm and I was looking forward to getting my hands on them and take a look earlier today.  They're doing well, much calmer and working hard drawing out their new foundation and building up their own comb.   We were pleased to find only 4 verroa mites after a week - so far so good.  One queen cell had been made since last week but once we had found the queen (eventually!) we removed that.  So, hive three is looking good.

We planned to leave alone hive two (moved last night) as it is hopefully raising a new queen.  So, into hive one we went to check on our artificial swarm.  Oh dear - no queen.  We went through very carefully twice but no sign of her and she had been well marked so I'm sure we would have seen her.  There were four queen cells but we really don't know if the bees have made emergency queen cells or whether they were planned.  We were very careful last week; I can't believe we damaged her.  Maybe the bees know better than us!

Somewhat disappointing but we hope hive two will yield a good queen and we'll consider reuniting the colonies and any other options next week.  Patience then ...
Posted by sally on Monday 19 May 2008 - 00:19:52 |printer friendly

Pagden part two

It has been a pretty dismal day: drizzling since lunchtime, with occasional heavier showers and a few interludes where the drizzle became just a dampness of the air. We were on apiary duty this afternoon, but fortunately the Association apiary is undercover in high-roofed barn (no sides) so we can work with the bees whatever the weather. There wasn't much to do this week. We just checked on a couple of colonies and added a few frames of foundation to hives that had been shook swarmed a fortnight ago.

This evening we moved hive two (the artificially-swarmed-from hive) to the other side of hive one like the good beekeepers we are becoming. The young bees that have just become foragers in the last week will return to hive one, giving that a useful boost in numbers. Hopefully it will also curb any remaining desire to swarm in hive two when the new queens emerge (fingers crossed!)
Posted by David on Saturday 17 May 2008 - 23:57:15 |printer friendly

Musings at the hive entrance

One very obvious thing we noticed with the swarm from the New Forest was that there was a lot of noise and haphazard buzzing around.  It took them a few days to gradually settle down and yesterday they were flying in and out in a pretty even and meaningful way.  I guess that the swarm would have had a greater number of young, inexperienced bees that needed to orient themselves for longer.

Another noticeable feature of the bees from the New Forest is that they are late risers.  Their hive catches the sun a good hour before the others, yet the bees are not active first!  Is it the strain of bee?  Were they not used to the different feel of a WBC compared to their previous National hive home?

I have just been up to have a look at the hives after a cooler day, dull and drizzly.  There is hardly a sign of movement from hive 3 (New Forest bees) yet the original colony, hive 2, (the one creating a new queen we hope) has a steady flow of bees in and out.  Admittedly this is a single bee at a time but it is like Heathrow, regular and relentless.  They have fewer foragers, but perhaps more need of stores.  Hive one is not quite as active - perhaps half or a third of the flow - but it still beats the bees in hive 3 who don't go out unless it is dry sunny and hot.
Posted by David on Thursday 15 May 2008 - 17:30:25 |printer friendly

All of a sudden we have an apiary!

Now we have an apiary
Rather than just keeping a few bees in our garden it looks as if we now have an apiary! In the foreground hive 3 houses the swarm from the New Forest. Hive 1 in the mid ground is our artificial swarm with the original colony (sans queen) to the right. In the background is the bait hive. The two brown floors are old solid floors soon to be replaced with OMFs like the others. They are on order and should be with us next week.
Posted by David on Monday 12 May 2008 - 15:27:31 |printer friendly

New Forest swarm comes to Dorset

Half an hour before midnight and Ken and Jill, our beekeeping friends from Devon, turn up with a swarm from their own bees they keep over in the New Forest. They had arrived at their New Forest Apiary to find a swarm from one of their hives Friday evening and gathered it up into a nuc. Two days later and they've brought it to Dorset for us. We'll take a proper look in the morning but in the meantime have placed the nuc in position on a hive floor and removed the travelling tape and the entrance cover.

So, thanks Jill and Ken and welcome to our third colony.
Posted by sally on Monday 12 May 2008 - 01:22:26 |printer friendly

Artificial swarm

Pagden, Heddon, Demaree, Snelgrove: so much choice if you want to artificially swarm. Though as we have WBC hives the choice is simplified. No messing about with special boards or stacking broods on supers; with WBC it has to be Pagden or a version of it.

Yesterday we planned our hive inspection, carefully reviewing a number of possibilities and what we would do for each scenario. In short these were variations on a) giving the queen a bit more room to lay in or b) artificially swarming because the colony was already in queen production mode. We had got all the necessary kit together - additional frames and boxes to meet all contingencies and a spare hive if we went Pagden.

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Posted by David on Sunday 11 May 2008 - 23:45:48 |printer friendly

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