Okay so I go away briefly – just overnight and look at what happens. We got a call from a friend, Lee, who said he had an unwanted swarm of bees in a tree.
Never slow to answer the call of honey, Jeff loaded up our one empty super (hive box) and the mesh we use to cover bees when we’re transporting them into our car (a red Mini).
Lee pointed to a small swarm hanging off the bottom of a hanging plant. It was about the size of a softball.
Instead of following directions and looking at where Lee was pointing, Jeff looked into the orange tree. There was another swarm right at our friend’s knee, and it was much larger – more like the size of a football. If Lee had moved any closer to the tree his knee would have been covered with bees.
These bees were all very gentle. Jeff brushed the bees from the tree into the super. He shook the bees on the bottom of the plant into a cardboard box that was shoved out through a window by a bee-phobic neighbor.
Meanwhile my flight was delayed and I didn’t get in until after midnight. On the way home, we stopped to pick up the bees.
The next day we moved the super from the porch where we had set it the night before to a sunny location. We poured the bees from the cardboard box into a smaller super and stack them on top with a layer of newspaper in between.
We are hoping that the bees will chew through the newspaper and form one hive. Of course this means that only one of the queens would survive, which is not something I like to dwell on. Bees make extra queens because they are often lost and weakened by age. However each hive only has one queen at a time.
Jeff looked into the top box while I was at work (why does all this stuff happen when I’m not around?). He saw no evidence of the bees chewing through the newspaper. At this point some bees were using the bottom as an entrance and some bees the top. It looked like a condo.
We moved to plan B, which is to share the bees with other beekeeping friends. However, by the time they arrive, the bees have chewed through the newspaper and united into one hive.
Unfortunately we had no spare swarm to give to our friends – but we’re still looking. And the newspaper trick worked! Yeah! Meanwhile in the process, we learned one tip – which is to poke pin-size holes into the newspaper to speed up the transition.