It was only nine days ago that the weather was so rubbish I thought it was going to be a disastrous year for bees. Since then, the heat has rocketed, my bees are going like stink, and I have had four major crises in eight days. I’m knackered.
It all began on Sunday, May 20. I had already noticed that one hive was bringing in a serious amount of honey, expanding rapidly, and producing queen cells.
It was time to create an artificial swarm.
When a colony expands quickly in the spring, it soon outgrows the hive, and so decides to swarm. It initiates the process by created new queens, and it is at the point before they hatch that a beekeeper has to act. By creating an artificial warm, a beekeeper will get rid of the colony’s urge to move home. Plus he gets an extra colony into the bargain.
The first thing I had to do was find the queen. It’s not something I’m great at, but I saw her first time. Brilliant.
I popped a queen cage on her and prepared to move her to her new hive. The rest of the flying bees would follow.
It was all going well until the cage dropped off, and, to make matters worse, the queen then flew away. That was Crisis No. 1.
Where did she go? Chances are she went back to her hive, but by this time the bees were so disturbed, I had no chance of seeing her, so I shut the hive up.
That was on the Sunday. On the Monday, I returned to see if I could find her. No sign, despite going through the hive twice. I was preparing to go home when I turned round and saw something that rooted me to the spot. There was a huge swarm in a nearby tree. It must’ve been a least three-foot long.
Crisis No. 2. What do I do? I’d never caught a swarm before and didn’t have the right equipment. So, I phoned my mentor. Luckily he was available to help.