What a crazy day!! Started out this morning loading up equipment to go help Jeff Maddox, a fellow beekeeper, remove a hive of bees that had set up shop in a kids play house. So, here is the back story... I get this call on Wednesday about noon from this gentleman that has a swarm in one of his rental properties' backyard. After calling him back, I find out that there is not only a swarm, but also an established hive in the children's playhouse by the tree. So, I am thinking... Wow, two for the price of one. Knowing that I am not setup to do a removal, but have the equipment to catch a swarm, I do what any one should do; I call Jeff Maddox. www.maddoxbees.com
Jeff is my friend and also my mentor in beekeeping, he also happens to be setup to remove hives from structures. So we arrive on the scene on Wednesday late afternoon to take a look. Well as luck would have it the swarm is gone. The trip is not a total loss however as the hive in the clubhouse seems to be doing just fine without mama bee and 1/2 her children. From the outside it looks to be a small hive built in a box up in the peak of the roof about 18"X18". Jeff assesses that this is going to take about 1/2 a day and should not be too difficult. From my limited perspective on removals, I agree. So after talking to the tenant and then also the homeowner and setup a date to remove the bees.
Fast forward to Saturday 03/31/12... We arrived at the house about 8:30 after stopping by The Home Depot to pick up some last minute equipment for the removal. We unpack the necessary equipment (scaffolding, hammers, stapler, saws, hive tools, extension cords, bee vac, ect...). Jeff is obviously well prepared... After about 30~45min of gtting setup we are ready to dig in and start to cut this hive open, when my phone rings. I get a call from another man with a swarm in his neighbor's yard. After a brief conversation, we realize that he really does have a swarm and we better get moving if we are going to catch this one before they abscond. So, back in the trucks we go...
We drive a short distance to arrive at what has to be the most picture perfect swarm ever. These girls lit on a dogwood tree about 2 feet off the ground; a perfect almost basketball size swarm. We propped an empty hive body up under the branch and the bees began to investigate. After about 15 minutes we were satisfied that they were finding their new home adequate so we decided to speed the process up a bit. I gave the branch a firm whack and the clump of bees fell onto the open hive body. It was amazing, it looked like someone just poured liquid bees on the hive as they "melted" down into the frames. We put an inner cover on and told the homeowner that we would be back to pick up the hive later in the day after the bees settled in.
We will use this area to keep notes on the bees and provide our customers and friends a place to check up and see how the hives are doing and this spring the bees are doing great. We have successfully overwintered all but one hive. I think the hive we lost actually swarmmed late season. They were full in October, but then a very small cluster in November. Sometimes there is just no pleasing the bees. But, all is not lost in this hive of Itallians, because, the Minnesota Hygenics were doing so well that we split them two weekends ago. Wow, what a blessing to have such and early season strong hive. We put the split in the hive body of the hive we lost, so it is business as usual. This past weekend I removed the entrance reducer and checked the top feeder. They seem to be doing very well.
Also this past week we increased our bee yard by 6 hives. A fellow beekeeper took a new job and had to move, so he called me and I bought his hives. This will ensure a large honey crop for the season. We are very excited to have this fortunate increase. This weekend I will inspect the new hives for the first time. Hopefully we will see lots of brood and stores. Maybe we will even get to split a couple of the new hives.