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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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All shook up


What a beautiful sunny weekend.  Even Saturday's expected rain didn't appear - or was over by the time we got up!

Saturday's association apiary meeting got us focussed and on Sunday, all of our hives got some form of treatment to address varroa.

With our two largest colonies we have decided to keep as much control as we can by continuing to dust with icing sugar until the weather is better suited to doing an artificial swarm (and possibly make increase if we can) so that will be our aim in a few weeks' time.

Our smallest hive at The Rectory is within tolerance for varroa (but then it seems to have very few bees) so we were settled to dust that.  The remaining three we wanted to shook swarm.  Preparation is everything and we find at this late stage that we only have one contact feeder - whoops!  After experimenting with plastic bags and turning out all the kitchen cupboards we found one likely tupperware box that could be "converted" by introducing pin holes in the top.  So, we decided to shook swarm the most in need and that was one in the garden and the one on The Hill.  The third we dusted with icing suger and decided to wait until the next sunny period (and get some contact feeders!).

The shook swarm ...

We were well prepared and ran through the process beforehand so we could be as swift as possible.

Our checklist in addition to our usual inspection kit:
Board
QX x 2
new brood box with frames and foundation (set up with housel positioning)
queen catcher
syrup 1:1 solution
contact feeder

We took the lifts off our WBC hives and stacked them to the side so that we could use that to rest the old brood box.   We find that two WBC lifts gives about the right height to put less strain on the old back.

On top of the lifts we placed a board (crown board size but with no holes) and on that put a queen excluder.  then we placed the old brood box on top.

We cleaned up the old floor and placed on it a queen excluder and then the new brood boxes with the centre four frames removed.

We inspected the old brood box and found the queen.  She was caught in the queen catcher and with her companion bees with her, rested on the top of the frames of the new brood box.

We then took each frame and shook the bees into the space in the centre of the new box, brushing any remaining bees into the space.  the queen was then allowed to run down between two frames.

Once all the bees were transferred, and flying bees were of course returning to the old site with the new brood box, we replaced the four frames in the centre, added the crown board, replaced the lifts and fed with syrup using a contact feeder and replaced the roof.  The old frames we took away for inspection; the destination for any frames with brood - the freezer.

Job done!

On checking the shook swarm in the garden later, we weren't satisfied that the make-shift contact feeder was working as it should so we changed it for a rapid feeder.  Contact feeders are now on the shopping list!
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Posted by sally on Sunday 05 April 2009 - 19:49:53 |printer friendly