Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Finally had a day in the garden,the weeds had all my carrots and onions by the throat and were choking them. Three weeds in (or should I say out)and Trev was by my side.
'What the hell?' he says. I look up and there's a frenzied cloud of bees or the Bohr Model (that symbol of atomic energy with the whizzing atoms) X 10,000. I had a swarm.
I'd been wanting to have a go at catching a swarm. Already hot, when suited up in three layers, gumboots, gloves and a hooded, netted hat I'm sweating and looking not unlike someone about to go into a radioactive area. Trev's made a beeline for town and left the property. Caleb has been winched away from the computer long enough to open gates for me and stand guard in case any 000 calls need to be made.
The bees have congregated in a two year old almond tree and inconveniently wound themselves between a main stem of the tree and the support post. Not good. I have my tree loppers, a large cardboard box, my smoker at the ready. But I soon realise three hands are required to lop the branch, and hold a kilo or so of bees on the branch with another. I try to use the side of my body as a left hand when I lop. But it's a fail. The branch hits the ground and there's a kilo of pissed off bees. I wait for them to reassemble around the queen and settle down before picking them up and depositing the branch into the box. A bit of pruning and it's in.
There are still heaps of bees on the ground, but they get the idea the queen is in the box and conveniently crawl in with her. I sit the box in the shade and place a wet sheet over it to keep them cool.
I go stick my head in a bucket of cold water and try to conert the colour of my face to something a little more becoming than puce.
Trev, my own personal carpenter arrives back and he quickly makes up a new hive base and lid. Soldering wax onto frames while I lug down a pallet and find a spot for the new hive.
The theory is, you lay down a sheet in front of the new hive and dump the box of bees at its doorstep and watch them crawl in. I dumped them, they crawled in. My doubts erased.
I now had one depleted hive and one new hive. I thought my beekeeping over for the day. Off I go with the whippersnipper. An hour or so later and I come within inches of whippersnipping a second swarm of bees. They're on the ground in long grass. This is not supposed to be the way it happens. What do you do with bees in the grass and bad weather coming? You decide, what the hell you'll drop a cardboard box over top of the lot and they can crawl in and out of the small slot at the top. They'll find their own way out and to safety when they're ready.
Two days later... There's still a lot of activity in the box. I lift up an edge and yep, they're making it a permanent home. There's an odd frass build up on the ground. They're eating the box. Keep it up and they will literally, 'eat themselves out of house and home'.
My own personal carpenter and Ehren (who thought he was coming to Tassie for a holiday) help me rig up a third hive body. I cut the top off the cardboard hive and lay the dangling wax comb they've made in between frames of the hive and only partially close the lid. They're going to have to get used to crawling through the entrance hole at the base before I close it.
Here's hoping it's early enough in the season for all three hives to thrive before winter.
Learnt alot this week in my beekeeping adventures.