Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I apologise to anyone who may have attempted to post a comment - it seems that I had the 'allow post comments' function turned off! Please don't shoot me, I am new to this blogging malarkey after all.



RectoryGarden said...

Voicemail from Mark Tilley, local swarm liaison, at 9 o’clock this morning – swarm needs collecting from a house about 7 miles away from me. If I can collect it myself – and let him know in the next 10 minutes – it’s mine!

Check clock, now 9.23 – have I missed it? Phone Mark, no it’s still available but he thinks I’ll need to get there quickly or it will move on; it’s been there for at least a day already.

With quiet and reassuring confidence I assure Mark I can be there in half an hour and collection will be no problem.

Put phone down. Panic descends … I’ve never even looked in a hive let alone collected a swarm. What on earth am I supposed to do?!

Phone Robin (FollowMeChaps) hoping for help. He’s out walking the dog – aaargggh!

Look round shed for helpful items – bee smock, gloves, brush; OK. No nuc box so a bit of butchering of a claret box is the best I can do. Chuck it all in the back of the car, target address in the sat nav, and off I go.

Stuck behind tractor – 15 minutes of frustration imagining bees flying off just as I get there.

Arrived. Nice elderly gentleman looking slightly perplexed/politely sceptical that young(ish!) man has tipped up in sports car assuring him he knows all about collecting bees. Apply usual boardroom tactics of appearing supremely confident regarding something I know nothing about. Works – nice old man goes inside to make tea!!

Swarm, thank the gods, easily accessible as has perched under a wrought iron garden table, frankly in need of a refreshing lick of paint. Confidently don smock and gloves, pass through air lock, and approach with box (Ch. Cissac, 2001).

Box under table; lift and drop; bees in box; box closed with gap for stragglers; lots of bees round entrance fanning (must have queen); give up on gloves to manipulate box; half an hour later job done. Or so I thought - have since learned from Robin that I should have left the box there until the evening to catch all the scouts and the few bees left still flying around. Sorry to the bees I’ve left behind - I’ll know next time!

Persuade nice old man he doesn’t need to pay me anything and that few remaining bees will fly away on their own soon (but leave him my mobile number in case they don’t). Back in car to find voicemail from Robin offering help (smug smile) then drive home in jubilant mood, quietly proud of myself for coping alone and praying the box doesn’t come undone in the boot.

It doesn’t. Plonk box in shade under walnut tree next to hive and scamper round the corner to see if Robin’s back and can come and help me hive the bees.

Robin and Sarah round to watch the great re-housing and take some photos. Their great and infectious enthusiasm and friendliness is fantastic. Jack, my eight year old, suited up and suitably (yes, a pun) excited. Me in smock. Rock-Hard Robin and Geordie Kirsty (wife - if you survive the Bigg Market on a Friday night nothing else comes close) in shorts and T-shirt – they won’t sting, honest!

Follower board set to width of box, box opened (no gloves!) and tipped, many bees in hive, box with remaining bees left next to hive entrance with flap running up to the entrance holes.

A nervous wait whilst bees try to get into hive any way except for through the entrance holes and there is no obvious fanning or movement towards the hive by the box bees; then suddenly the fanning starts and processions of bees march their way from the box to the hive – an exhilarating sight.

Now sat on the patio about 4pm, transport box empty and put away (they’d started depositing wax even during the 10 min drive home), and watching the worker flying in and out of the hive like they’ve been there forever. Just hope they’re still there tomorrow!

All in all the most exciting Saturday we’ve had for a long time!

YABeeP said...

Brilliant story Nick. What a sense of achievement you must have catching your own swarm. Well done