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Friday, May 12, 2017
Our first feral swarm of bees. Catholic Chicken Coop and Apiary!
We attended our first beekeeping class last weekend, and Brenden loved it. He assisted the apiarist with his swarm. They took the queen out to force the bees to swarm and demonstrate how to catch and swarm/put them into a hive. I was really surprised at how little I worried about stings. The bees were so docile and subdued!
I think paying for bees ($150 and up around here) is crazy, especially since bees can leave when they feel like it! Although I know it's easier than traveling to catch a swarm. So me being cheap, I put an add on Craigslist, and in less than a 4 days I had two people contact me about bee swarms. My husband helped me collect these poor guys in the cold rain. It had been pouring on and off for two days, but especially heavy rain that morning. They were holding so still and almost looked "fake" like a statue.
So our Craigslist contact, Ken, lived a long ways out of town, and he said the bees used to be kept on his property a long time ago. The bee keeper got stung once and then refused to come back out and maintain them. He left Ken with the hives and bees. Ken couldn't even get someone to drive out the Kingman for the free equipment. He has seen many swarms around there but no one ever wanted to come and collect them.
I was a little anxious because of the heavy cold rain and wind. But I knew these bees weren't flying off in this bad weather and it was likely from good domestic stock- someone probably paid a lot of $$ for.
It was so worth the trip.
LOL- love the Home Depot bucket! Seems appropriate right? So my husband helped hold the branch, Ken lopped it and then they backed off and I shook it- (I probably didn't shake hard enough downward to drop them, I was afraid of hurting them and their wings were sticking to everything) But they fell into the box and started buzzing around. Prior to that even during the lopping branch the bees didn't move. We waited about 15 mins and I went back and boxed them up, I could see the queen, so we knew she was in there. We had to get going, so we couldn't collect them all. (I did use Lemon Grass in the box) It was a shame but we were just barely squeezing this in with the rain and piano lessons and speech therapy appointments. I was the only one with a bee suit, Brad wore his rain coat, everyone had long sleeves on- cold and rain! However, those bees were never aggressive and NO ONE GOT STUNG!
They rode in the wrapped up in the tarp inside that deep hive for 45 mins back to our house in the truck bed. I was really afraid they would come out ANGRY, but Brad unloaded them and they were real subdued and didn't give us any trouble at all, and still NO ONE GOT STUNG. We didn't even bother with smoke.
It was a little weird when I shook the branch seeing the bees suddenly "wake" up and buzz all around. But I just kept telling myself, they don't want to sting when they swarm (or ever really) and you have your protective gear on, so your fine, just work!
I think even if we wouldn't have had our long sleeves on we'd been fine. Brad had no gloves and was handling the bees with me and didn't have any problems. It couldn't have gone better! I guess call it "bee"ginners luck! (Even after all my research and watching YouTube, I am an advocate for covering up though when you start out, as humans we are scared of pain, even if it's small. And being able to relax and not worry about stings, and avoiding them helps you from being discouraged and quitting early on.)
They are now living in our chicken pen with a nice little bee fence to keep the north wind off them. I filled a frame feeder for them, hoping to keep them around, we'll see how they do and if they take off, oh well- they were free and the experience was fun. We will just have to try again.
Hope you have a lovely weekend! Our Lady of Fatima pray for us!