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Chesterfield Swarm!

Yesterday, around 6:30 PM, I received a call of a swarm of bees (thousands of them everywhere) in a nearby tree. My first question was ‘how long have they been there?’ The nice lady said they arrived on Thursday and had stayed through to Saturday. I am having a hard time picturing how a hive would cast a swarm now. It is miserably dry and we are in a dearth. Maybe someone cut down their tree? At any rate, according to the lady, they were on a branch about 10′  off of the ground! This sounded like a good situation. If they were 10′ off the ground, I could easily get them with my 8′ step-ladder. I packed my gear and headed over!

The swarm turned out to be more like 12′ high, which created a bit of an issue. In addition, instead of being massed at the end, they were spread over several small Pine limbs, about 2′ wide. It was a bunch of bees, but they were all massed in the needles. I had taken a frame of brood from the Albo hive (I am going to have to throw a feeder on that hive after all, as I have taken 5 frames from them in the last few days) and placed it into the hive as an anchor. I took a big box and held it  under the limb while I shook very hard. A bunch of bees flopped into the box, but a bunch also went into the air. I came down the ladder and poured the bunch in the box into my hive and stepped back.

Several bees on the ground and around the hive began to enter, but when I looked back up into the tree, I could immediately see a small ball forming again. It gained mass quickly, so I was pretty sure that it was the queen. It was probably between the size of a baseball and a softball. I went back up the ladder and, this time, just snipped that section off, carrying it back down the ladder and holding it in the hive while I gave a shake.

More bees started coming into the hive at this point, so I stepped back and watched for 10 minutes or so. A very small clump was trying to form on the tree again, but it was meager. Most of the bees in the air seemed unsure what to do. I looked to the ground and saw a bunch going into the hive this time. I was pretty sure that I had the grand, old lady, so I closed everything down and left.

Around dark, I came back to a full box of bees and started yet another hive on the property (I now have more then I want in one place – and definitely more ‘single deep’ hives then I wanted to feed through the dry Summer. Regardless, it is great fun and a learning experience.

The hive was on Apple Orchard road, so I think I will call this the Apple Orchard hive. I checked her this morning and gave them some feed, which they took to quickly. Robbing immediately started, so I dropped an entrance reducer on (I need to build some more robber screens, it would seem). These bees seemed to have enough to fend the buggers off and setup guard posts very much like the Berkeley Hive does.

It will be very interesting to see if these bees build up as fast as the Westover Hive did. I really do not know how they could build up but so quickly, given the fact that we are in a real dry spell. I will keep my syrup on them and see if they can get on a roll like my first swarm.

In closing, robbing continues to be a problem in the yard. The weaker hives (by that, I really mean any hive that has not filled up 7 frames in the bottom Deep yet) seem to draw the other bees in. I have seen good results with the robber screens, so I hope to get one on the Apple Orchard hive shortly.

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