I told you about inspecting a friend’s beehive earlier in the year. After that I then decided that I really wanted some bees of my own.
I ordered my hive, and then ‘painted’ the boxes with a 1:10 combination of beeswax and raw linseed oil.
It does get really hot in western Sydney, and after investigating natural paint options, I decided to paint the roof with a white “non-stinky” water based paint, to try and deflect the heat out of the hive. It was actually really surprising the number of hardware shop staff who didn’t know what a “low VOC” or “low volatile organic compound” paint was, only when I said the words “non-stinky” did they understand what I meant.
I tried baiting my warre hive by sticking it on the roof of the shed, and using a tissue with a few drops of lemongrass oil as bait. I’ve had bees amongst my rangy basil (going to seed) all winter, so I thought that I was in with a chance.
Not a sniff, not a whiff, the local bees just weren’t interested.
Then I got a call via an established beekeeper who is on the Australian Beekeepers Association list to collect swarms. It was a bit too late in the day to collect on the day that I got the call, but we turned up at 8am the next morning. It was due to be a hot day*.
Their royal swarminess:
The swarm was about the size of a small rockmelon/cantelope/large grapefruit. It was ideal in terms of collection, about 1.5m off the ground, with fairly level ground underneath.
After fetching the bait box out of the car and placing on the ground nearby, the scout bees were over in a flash having a good look around. We cleared the branches around the swarm cluster, and then the actual branch upon which the swarm was perched. One good shake into the hive box to get most of the bees inside, and then cover the frames with the flyscreen, and place the branch in front of the entry for the leftover bees to find their way. It’s a fine balancing act between waiting for the bees to find their way inside and waiting too long such that the day gets warm enough for the bees to go out foraging.
The bees go marching one by one:
After the majority of the bees had relocated, you could see some of the more organised ones at the entry way ‘fanning’ their wings. They were fanning out the scent of the swarm, so that any bee who was still stuck on the outside could work out where they had relocated to. I am especially amused by the fact that they used the duct tape as a ‘ramp’ to get up into the box.
I drove home gingerly, carefully, chauffeur driving. There were about five bees who hadn’t made it into the hive box, but had followed the scent into the car. Because the sun was on the back window, they were gently tapping on the window, trying to get out. I wonder if anyone else stuck behind me in traffic noticed?
I’m sooo excited.
Inside the hive:
I had a quick peek into the hive box after I put the hive box into its new home, and just before I put the permanent roof on. The bees had clustered on the frames under the fly screen, just waiting for me to go away so that they could *get on with it already*.
About four days after I picked up the swarm, they seem to be going strong. I’ve now noticed about 50% of the bees are returning home with their pollen sacs birght yellow and full. The small hive beetle trap underneath of the hive floor is now being filled with discarded bit of wax and sticky clumps of pollen. Even bees have their waste products.
*It was a hot day. The garden thermometer reported a maximum temperature that day of 43 degrees Celsius in the sun.