What Am I Doing Wrong?
Can anyone tell me? Cause I’m honestly at a loss as to what else I can do here. I came home after working at my aunts for a few hours and found a large cluster of bees in my apple tree. I’m going to go out on a limb here (har har har) and say that they’re probably mine. Here are the only pictures I was able to take. My camera’s battery is dead, with no hope of regenerating, so I had to use my iPhone. I apologize in advance for the trrible photography. I haven’t had a chance to properly explore the iPhones camera, and I was a little pressed for time with picture taking.
The only reason I knew they swarmed was because there were so many bees flying around this cluster on the apple tree. I wouldn’t have seen it if it weren’t for all the flying bees. I was talking to my neighbor and noticed them and had to hurriedly rush my dogs inside and set about getting to work.
This behavior (all these girls fanning their hives scent into the air) makes me think it was Trunchen Hive that swarmed. That, and it was the less active of the two before I started messing with it.
Thankfully I had an extra box for the Warre hive that I hadn’t used yet, so I quickly donned my suit and grabbed that and headed outside. It was also extremely helpful that the bees had decided to land 7 feet up, where I could reach them without too much effort. I was stuck holding the box upside down, with a board across it so the top bars wouldn’t fall out, while I cut the branch off of the tree. I’m glad I decided to do that, because flipping the box right side up with so many bees in it would’ve been impossible. I was stuck maneuvering the box awkwardly by myself (I really need to invest in a second suit so someone can help me while doing these things), which was not very easy.
I had to put the box down with the branch sticking awkwardly out of it, and put two of the three boards I planned on using to act as a bottom board (incase I didn’t specify this, this new box was going onto the top of Trunchen Hive, separated by some cloth and 3 pieces of a fence post). I then had to lift the branch out of the box, lift the box and place that so it wouldn’t fall (I have a convenient hillside next to me, that’s really inconvenient when you need a flat surface) and then put the third board (the one that was keeping the frames from falling) next to the others on the top of Trunchen Hive. With that done I set the box down, realized I’d put it on upside down, so the ledge where the bars hang was on the bottom, and had to do the impossible task of flipping it over with one hand while trying not to fling the bees that were clinging to its inside everywhere.
With that all done, I shook the bees off of the branch into the box (I’d say it was close to 4 pounds of bees) and then set about putting the top bars in. I also made sure to angle one of the boards that was acting as the floor, so that the bees had a little entrance in the back of the hive. That way, bees aren’t arriving at the hive and finding two entrances and getting confused. A cluster of bees had begun reforming on another branch of the apple tree, so I cut that off and shook it into the box. With that done, I put that extra cloth I had from my aunt, the one I brought home for the swarm a few weeks ago, on the top of the top bars and put on the quilt and the roof and walked away. I went and got my big fan-sprinkler, and turned that on to encourage the bees to find a place to land.
Here’s what the hive looks like now.
I also foolishly put the branches I cut in a too-full yard waste bin that won’t close. There are now bees everywhere in my yard and its impossible to walk anywhere. There are dozens flying around the apple tree, where the original cluster had landed, and there are dozens flying in and around the branches in the yard waste bucket. There are also bees flying from all three colonies in search of food, adding to the chaos. The dragonflies are loving it though, and the three that we have (we normally only have 1, but they love eating bees so much that two more have shown up this year) are darting through all of the bees with ease. I’ve seen them catch and release a few of them, so I’m not sure if they’re just having trouble catching them the right way, or they can’t keep hold of them. At any rate, we have more bugs everywhere right now. Ooo! and the red dragonfly is here as well! The red one hardly ever comes over here. I wish my camera was working, I can see it eating a large bug (what I’m assuming is a bee) on the peony tree halfway up the hillside. Yup! Its a bee! It finished and just darted out to snag another in a matter of seconds.
Anyway, if anyone has any advice or speculation as to what I’m doing so wrong that my bees have swarmed 3 times, I would greatly appreciate it! I’m definitely going to invest in some different beekeeping books because the 2 I have now have clearly not prepared me properly.
Oh, and the bees at my aunts are also expanding into their lower box fairly quickly. My cousin still hasn’t made her boxes yet (she wants boxes with windows, which are a lot of extra work) so I’ve texted him to say he needs to make them ASAP because swarms are rampant.