On January 7 I gave a short talk at the Members’ Night of the East Of Scotland Beekeepers’ Association, covering the major highs and lows of 2012. Here it is in full:
The first notable event of 2012 began on May 20. I had two hives and had already noticed that one was bringing in a serious amount of honey, expanding rapidly, and producing queen cells.
It was time to create an artificial swarm – my first. I found the queen on the first attempt and popped a queen cage on her and prepared to move her to her new hive.
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 a 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 at 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.
Within an hour, we had cut it down, and stuck it in a spare brood box.
My mentor reckoned it was a belter of a swarm which would work like crazy to bring in honey. Furthermore, it would produce astonishing clean and perfect comb.
This was going to be great, I thought. Three hives all going like crazy, bringing me honey. I might even have some to sell.
The following day at work, I got a very confused message from my son. Someone had a swarm in their chimney, and they thought it was mine. Crisis No. 3. I couldn’t understand it. I knew one of my colonies had already swarmed, and the other wasn’t ready to. Perhaps they weren’t my bees. Continue reading