Monday, October 13, 2008

What to do with a swarm

I was at my friends in Sydney on the long weekend, and while I was there I was able to see the process of rehoming a swarm of bees in a new hive.

I didn't know that generally each spring a new queen is born and the colony divides and becomes two. The group that swarm generally swarm in a nearby tree, and whilst swarming are reasonably placid. If you don't get them into a hive they continue to swarm and can pose a danger to neighbours, so you have to get them quick.

My friend's dad here is packing the smoker, using pine needles he collects while working on his bush regeneration sites.

My friend Clarissa is preparing the sheets for the new hive, with prepared beeswax attached to the hives for the bees to build up and fill.

Once suited up, remove a sheet from an existing hive above the queen excluder thingy (the honey in the sheet gives the swarm incentive to move in and make themselves at home.) An new sheet is put in to replace it.

Now climb up the tree (this is a persimmon tree) and cut off the branch with the swarm on it. Carefully descend the ladder. My friend's son is the one handling the bees, he is learning the skills from his grandfather and the new hives will be his. It's great that the skills and traditions are being passed on.

Now get the branch over the new hive and shake them in (note it's an up and down action rather than side to side - the aim is to get them in the hive not on the grass) Look for signs that the queen is in by looking for bees flying into the hive as well as out through the base.

Get the lid on and congratulate yourselves on a job well done. I took photos and later Persimmon cuttings, and tried to avoid the bees. lol. They were actually quite placid.
It was a lot of fun, but I think my yard is too small for bees so I will leave them up at Illabunda and just put in my order for honey :)


Shibaguyz said...

What a great example of how skills are passed on from generation to generation. We had two large swarms in our immediate neighborhood this past summer and folks that looked just like your friends came and took them away to a nice, safe hive. Definitely a cool thing to be able to do!

han_ysic said...

Thanks Shibaguyz, it was great to see it all. Maybe I could convice a friend with a property to let me keep a hive at their place?

Anonymous said...

Bees are the next thing I would like to have on our plot. Thanks for sharing this information, it is encouraging to know that it isn't too hard.
P.S> I loved your last post, it is so true, that the important things never lose their value.

han_ysic said...

Thanks Tracy and good luck with getting bees, maybe contact the local beekeepers assn, they should have a contact near you.