This is us collecting our swarm earlier this year. I was unable to post a picture in my old blog so it is good to show you now! This was a totally new experience for us. The bees were very obliging in being text book in their behavior! I had been expecting them to swarm due to observing their behavior for a few days before. Bees are very organized and will always swarm on a sunny day between 11 and 2pm. Do not ask me why! Ours went at 1.30pm. My son in law had been in the area and heard them. The buzzing is very loud.
For a few days before, the bees send out scouts to find a new home. They will also check out a good place to settle when they first leave the hive. They will swarm every spring as they will create new queens. Only one queen can live in a hive. When a new one hatches the old one gathers some workers who will take some honey from the hive to keep them going , and leave! Ours decided to settle quite low down in our holly tree. The queen will settle on a branch and the worker bees will gather around her to protect her.
This is the swarm! At this point the bees are their most docile as they do not have any brood to protect.
we were able to cut off the branch with the swarm on it and shake it into the wooden box. Provided you get the queen in the rest will follow. We left the box propped open for a couple of hours to gather the stragglers.
A few weeks before we had bought a new hive having made the decision to expand to two hives. At dusk that day when the bees were settled on the frames in the box I moved them into the new hive. At this point they had already started filling the cells with the honey from the the other hive.
I left them to it for the night.
The next day I checked the first hive and found a queen so was happy they would thrive. The second hive I put some sugar syrup on to start them off.
My approach to bee keeping is hands off. On the grounds they have been doing this for a great many years I do not interfere. I spend lots of time observing from outside and can hear lots of activity so I am sure both are fine! In Sepember I hope to harvest some honey so I'll open the hives to see what is there. I will only take honey if there is plenty to ensure the bees have enough to over winter.
Any honey I get is a bonus as the main reason I have them is because they are major pollinators.
We get many bee varieties in our garden and currently have tree bumble bees nesting in a dormer window. They will die off in the autumn when the queen will burrow into the ground for the winter. In the spring she will emerge and start a new colony.
It has been a very steep learning curve for me having bees but very interesting too.
I have been stung a few times and have lost my fear of them. They are amazing little creatures!
I have lived in France for almost eight years now. In that time I have gradually simplified my life and worked at improving my carbon footprint. On a world scale there is little I can do but I can make a difference in my corner. I welcome comments but would ask all to maintain the peace that I work hard at promoting.