Agatha Is No More

I had several titles for this post. “UGGGGGH, Ok, seriously?! No honey this year, and This bitch” among them. Trunchen Hive swarmed at 11:05 today. My mom had JUST left for a funeral and I had stepped outside to finish my morning cup of tea, when the bees began clouding in front of Trunchen Hive. I ran to grab my camera, and my phone to call my mom, and came back out to snap a few pictures. I’ll post them later, as today my aunt and I are putting beauty bark down over the first level of my garden and I don’t have enough time to do more than write a hurried post.

The bees made a bigger cloud than the first swarm, in my opinion. They occupied the air space all the way from the back edge of my yard to the roof of my house, some 50 feet away, if not more. My aunt was pulling up with a load of bark in her husbands truck in time to see them. This is the aunt who helped me move the last swarm mind. I told her to look back from where she was and she replied “no! I was coming around the other way to avoid seeing it!”

The bees moved up into my neighbors yard, just to the left of me, so I was able to go through her house (she wasn’t home, but I let myself in with my spare key) and watch as the swarm landed some 15 feet up in one of her trees. I have absolutely no where to house this swarm and I’m really not interested in risking my life to catch them, so I’m just going to let them go. Besides, Agatha is clearly a queen I can’t handle. Its frustrating though, because she’s obviously a great layer, and has now headed two sufficiently strong colonies. She headed a colony that was able to be split three ways, and one of those splits, headed by her, was able to swarm again. If any of these splits make it through the winter, it will be the one with her at its head. That said, it’s nice to be rid of her, because the new queens will hopefully make nicer bees than she did.

I was worried about swarming, but I couldn’t get into the box to look at any of the “frames”. This colony swarmed while only occupying ONE box. They had just begun expanding into the lower box, and now that all of the field bees are gone, I don’t know if they’ll be able to sufficiently fill in the lower box before the end of the year. I’ll post pictures of the swarm later. Right now I have to go finish barking my garden.

*****EDIT*****

After waiting for over 7 hours, the bees had not relocated and it was beginning to rain, as well as get dark. So I broke down and asked my aunt if I could borrow her extendable ladder to go capture them. This of course meant that both of my neighbors came over to watch me, as well as my uncle who came to retrieve his truck (cousins came over, errands were ran; long story short my aunt had two cars of hers at my house that needed to go home with her). So. After having spent an entire day hauling bark all over my yard, I climbed up the ladder with cardboard box in hand to capture the bees. I have absolutely no spare hive parts lying around, so a cardboard box was literally the most convenient thing I could use. It was about the size of a Package (one that bees actually come in). Oh, haha, I didn’t even realize the serendipity of that.

Anyway. The I thought there were less bees than there were (they had wrapped themselves farther around the tree, so I didn’t actually see how many there were until I was up the tree), but the box was by no means full after I finished collecting them. The box had come with something wrapped in paper inside of it, and I still had that, so I just crumpled that up and put it in the box for the bees to hold onto, instead of a stick or something similar. So these bees are literally up a tree, homeless, in a cardboard box that say’s “will work for flowers” on it (one of my college friends had the clever idea of writing that on there).

I called my cousin as soon as I was back home and asked him to finish constructing the hive boxes he was making for his mother and I. I’ll get them sometime tomorrow and transfer the bees into that. So… Agatha lives on!

**********SECOND EDIT**********

 

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6 responses to “Agatha Is No More”

  1. The Honeypotters says :

    oh man, again?! Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one experiencing swarms, swarms have been a major topic on many blogs this year!

    • willowbatel says :

      Yeah, but its kind of like a ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ sort of thing. I’m going to reread my beekeeping book and see if I can’t relearn something I must’ve forgotten about beekeeping. I feel like more of a bee-wrangler than a beekeeper, lol.

  2. Emily Heath says :

    Ooh exciting edit, hope you can hang on to them! Our bees swarmed this year too, we tried out best to stay on top of things but it happens.

    • willowbatel says :

      OK, so I’m not really sure what I’m doing with them once I put them in a box tomorrow. If I just put them on top of their old hive, with newspaper in between, will that be enough to make them think they’ve still swarmed and are in a new location, or will they figure it out and try and swarm again? I’ve been reading through my book and its not giving specific or helpful information.

  3. Emma Sarah Tennant says :

    Agatha is a great name for a queen. Fantastic story! 🙂

    • willowbatel says :

      Thanks! Hopefully she found somewhere nice to colonize and is doing well. There is definitely enough nectar in the area that she should be doing perfectly fine, and even winter successfully as far as I’m concerned.

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