To Swarm or Not To Swarm

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all Happy Easter for the weekend just passed, and “Christ has arisen!” for those back home, who have just celebrated Easter this Sunday. In Cyprus, Christian Orthodox, celebrate Easter on the 28th of April (in case you were wondering about my comment).

I spent my (UK) Easter weekend with family, soaking up the Vitamin D, eating great food (loads of it!) and celebrating the fake promise of warm days to come – we now have thunderstorm warnings…! My amazing weekend was then topped up with an ambitious bike ride that ended in the most successful way possible: I found my wild garlic! I am by no means a professional forager, but I had my heart set on finding this elusive wild garlic. I searched for such a long time, and finally finding it in such an abundance was like entering paradise – it was amazing!

Just when I though the day could not get any better, I got the call. I received the call that would lead to close interaction with bees during the most fascinating event of their lives: swarming. Receiving the phone call was completely unexpected (how much better could my day get?!) and naturally, I asked all the questions needed for me to prepare for the collection, forgetting that the gentleman on the other end of the line might not know what I know and not to worry about the swarm. Damn! I must have come across so rude! I had no time to think about that because I had just under an hour before arriving home, collecting all my gear and potential tools and heading over to collect the swarm.

Once again, being over-prepared is much better than unprepared and so all the gear for climbing up the tree (that’s where I was told the swarm was), and safely retrieving the bees was packed. I was ready. As I arrived I realised this was a family home with some members looking especially nervous and concerned, hopefully my over-prepared self boosted their confidence in the little girl that just arrived to collect this swarm.

The swarm had by then migrated down to a bush at ground level, thank god for that! I was not sure how happy I was being both at a height and collecting bees. However, being in a bush meant that they were now harder to collect, some were in the grass, the rest spread over several branches of the bush. Needless to say, the home owners were truthful when they said this was a big swarm, because it was!

And so the collection of the swarm had began, cutting the small branches of the bush to transfer the bees to my nucleus box. When that was no longer possible, scooping the bees up was the next thing to do. Collecting them using my hands was magical. I could feel the millions of tiny vibrations echoed through my own body and I suddenly felt like I as holding something so precious and fragile, I felt as though I was holding the heart of the colony in my little hands.

The collection soon turned into an autonomous march into my nucleus box, where the queen was now placed. Bees started fanning, spreading the queen’s pheromones and letting everyone else know she was now safely located in a hive. The fanning bees intensified and the so did the march; I was no longer needed for this mass migration was taking place on its own. I sat back, had a glass of water and enjoyed the afternoon sun, waiting for the bees to move into their new home.

-THREE HOURS LATER-

Most bees were safely in the nucleus box (I would say I managed to collect 97% of them by even collecting some, one by one on my hands) and ready for transportation. And it dawned on me: Transportation to where? I couldn’t take these bees in, I had no hive! Luckily, the Association has a list of new beekeepers waiting for a swarm and so I started to calling those near me. First one, no answer. Second one, no answer. Third time lucky? No. (Did no one want these bees???) Fourth call, we had an answer! “Hi, this is your lucky day because you have a hive ready, I have a swarm and you answered your phone!”

You guessed it, the day was not over just yet, the swarm was to be transported now to its new home. Packed and strapped in the car, the bees were taken for a drive, only 10 minutes away. The new beekeeper was waiting with her friend, all suited and booted! They were so excited to receive the bees, which made me excited to give them away. Moving them into their new home was easier than the collection, we just places the frames carefully into the hive, making sure the queen was there, and dropped the rest onto a ramp with a sheet on top. We then all three, watched the marching swarm once again climb up into the entrance of its new, forever home. The two ladies were over the moon for their new family and I was over the moon for helping the bees find a wonderful new home.

👍
then...

Upon writing this, and a few days after the event, I was on the BBKA website and accidentally came across this:

What an unexpected surprise, thank you for the kind words and for the donation! I am very grateful for your support for our volunteers and Wildlife ☺️💜 🐝

One thought on “To Swarm or Not To Swarm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.