Beekeeping in the Rain! September 18 2013, 0 Comments
I got an email this afternoon from Ms P letting me know that there was a swarm feeling quite sorry for itself on her property. With the wind and rain today, they couldn’t hang up high off the ground and were milling about on the ground around a tree trunk and a fence.
It is still very early in the Spring to be throwing a swarm already. The weather has been rather cold and wet, however about 3 weeks we had about 4 days of beautiful warm weather. My guess is that this tricked the bees into deciding that it was time to raise a new Queen for the Spring and to get some space in their home. Fast-track 3 weeks to now and the poor old Queen is told ‘too bad honey, it’s time to go!’ and out the swarm flew, into the cold…
We motored on out to the property and sure enough they were very wet and unhappy. The spot they had stopped on was very difficult – we couldn’t sweep them into anything, nor could we use smoke to move them up into a box AND we were too far away from a power point to use the awesome Bee-Vac!
So we went with the handful-o-bees method – yeah, handful of bees. Considering how miserable they were, they were pretty tolerant. We put them straight in to a super, and after getting about a third of them in, they started fanning and shaking their tushies in the air. This puts out the ‘here we are, this is a good place’ pheromone. We had to use the smoker to discourage them from clumping back down in the grass, but after about 15 minutes, they all started moving into the hive box! Usually you don’t use smoke on a swarm, because it just makes them mad, however sometimes you can use it a little to get them moving – kinda ‘stick’ (we didn’t have time for the ‘carrot’ or rather sugar syrup).
But 5 minutes after, RAIN! This stopped the march dead in its track, so we decided to get some dinner and come back in an hour. Back at the property, and they were all now in the box, or on the outside of the box – still wet! So carefully using a plastic lid, a bee brush and the hive tool, we scrapped them up and put them into the hivebox. Success…?
After closing up the last gate on Ms P’s property, T1 told us he saw a bee…uh oh…then T2 told us she saw one…double uh-oh! We abandoned the car, and with the lights now inside, we see quite a few more! Oh dear. On go the bee-suits, plus a bee sting for T1 which was a huge bummer – in the boot as he was putting it on
We all had a chuckle on the way home about what the policeman would say if we got pulled over. Incidentally, we were driving home from a charity event last week and all four of us were decked out as Mary Poppins, Burt, Jane and Michael and drove through an RBT! The police officer was professionally amused