Our weather is still very wet with occasional breaks when the sun lets us know it is still there. One of those days happened last Wednesday. Joshua was looking out the front window when he saw thousands of bees. It was a swarm.
Michael was on a conference call so it was up to me to figure out what to do. I got on the computer and looked up Willamette Valley Beekeepers association. Thankfully, Mike was home. He helped me, over multiple phone calls.
Usually, when a swarm happens the bees go quite a distance away. This swarm came out of the hive Nancy bought us and they didn’t go far.
Mike asked me if the swarm, which had clustered by then, was as big as a football. I told him it was actually the size of THREE footballs. Then he asked if I could easily get to the cluster. I said, “Sure, it’s about six inches off the ground.”
It was a warm day, and I needed to find a box in which to collect the bees. Because it was warm I needed to poke holes in the box. Nicholas helped me get the box ready. Actually, Nicholas helped me with everything that day.
A swarm wasn’t something we were ready for. I really didn’t have anywhere to put the bees once I collected them. In the end, I ended up taking a box off the new hive and added it to the hive that swarmed. Mike gave me advice and then it was time to just get it done.
I needed to cut some branches off since the only box I could find was pretty big. The bees didn’t care even when I got close to them to cut the branches.
Somehow, I managed to get the box under most of the bees. THWACK! I hit the branch with a hammer and into the box they fell. Mostly.
Some of the bees decided to fly around me. Amazingly, with the jacket and hood on, it isn’t scary at all. I felt something crawling up my leg (might not have been a bee) which made me realize that in my rush to not lose the swarm, I had not changed into jeans and boots. The great thing about a swarm is the bees are incredibly docile. They don’t have a hive to protect, and their tummies are full of honey in preparation for a long flight. It was surreal but not scary.
The box I had made it more difficult to get all the bees out. Flaps were not taped down so I had to reach in and open them up then flip it over to knock the bees out. I had to do that a few times to make sure they were all out.
That yellow box I am dumping them into is the one I added from another hive. Basically, I put them back in the hive they swarmed from. Not a lot of choice.
At this point, I drive up toWilsonville to Ruhl Bee Supply to buy another hive. That was a three-hour trip. When I got home there was a small size cluster on the same branch. Maybe the ones I missed or maybe another swarm. I knocked those into the box then added them to the new hive.
In the end, we were able to make another hive with that swarm. Michael and I discussed how everything went that day and we decided to have extra parts for our beehives so we don’t find ourselves having to “make do”.
Our preferred hive configuration is a base, two deep supers, then two medium supers. Today, on my way back home from Portland, we bought what we needed for each hive to have those four boxes. Some stuff was out of stock but we will get those couple of things within a week.
This way, we can get the boxes painted before we need them.
Do any of you remember the 1978 movie called The SWARM? It had quite the star-studded cast. I miss all those “B-movies”.
I’m grateful Joshua saw the swarm. I’m so thankful for Nicholas’ help that day and the days following. I’m really happy that the bees didn’t go far and I was able to make a new hive. Now we have three hives.