Bye bye bees

Dad rang me today to let me know that his neighbours found another swarm. Grumpily, I got up from my nap and put on my bee suit to check things out. I thought maybe one of the swarms we had put into a hive had decided they didn't like the arrangement, but I don't think it was as simple as that.

In one of the elm-and-blackberry hedges at the apiary, there was a very small cluster of about a thousand bees. They'd been there for a few hours. I checked all four of our hives. None of them were empty and so the swarms we'd collected seemed to have stayed, despite how stressful the last few days have been for them. And now there was another swarm. A fifth colony. Whether they are repeatedly splitting from the colonies we have, or whether they are just passing bees attracted somehow by the existing bees nearby, we don't know. But there they were, in the hedge.

I rang Dave, who dropped all his Bank Holiday Monday plans to hurriedly make up some nuc frames. Unfortunately, a couple of minutes before he and his family arrived, the swarm had turned into an angry cloud blocking the road. As I was stopping some cyclists from going through it, the bees upped and went, via the apiary and the shed and finally down the lane. It was a pretty amazing thing to watch, a bit like a UFO, and I think the cyclists were as surprised as I was. Jen and I went to look for the swarm, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Talk of expansion is getting more serious. With just the one nuc prepped but the prospect of potentially many more swarm reports, we're talking about driving down to Thornes of Devon to get more hives, hive parts, feed, and other stuff.

In the meantime, my wellies, bee suit, and smoker wait by the door, ready for the next time somebody tells us about bees in their hedge.