Sunday, 21 June 2009

June meeting, live swarm & hive building

Well, hasn’t a lot changed? The last time we met four weeks ago everyone from the first tranche of members had built hives but not a soul had bees, When we met yesterday I am pleased to report that everyone who’s hives were ready and waiting had now become the proud parents – that’s 7 new beekeepers in the area and 2 more old beekeepers (!) with sustainable hives.

Not everything had gone according to plan and the meeting was spent talking through everyone’s experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, plus others chipping in on behalf of those who had not been able to make this meeting. What a lot of learning had been packed into this last month – what with hive ‘walk-ins’, poisoning, a dead queen in a swam, collapsing brood comb, swarm collecting, installing swarms and a package and Jenny’s Houdini queen – well caught Robin - howzat?

The morning proved to be a really positive talk involving everyone this time (it’s about time someone stopped that Robin from prattling on) supplemented by the cake and biscuits that Sue and Ray had very kindly supplied – what a difference having bees makes to a thirst for knowledge and appetite!

All that was needed now was 2 more swarms to correct the balance in Andrew & Janice and Peter & Sue’s hives and a practical demonstration on swarm catching to reinforce the theory we had just discussed.

Live Swarm
Well, just as we finished and the group was starting to break up, with meticulous timing and right on cue, what should happen but one of the on site hives started to swarm. Unlike the last meeting when the swarm, from the same hive by the way, happened when half the group had already departed, everyone was there to witness it this time.

How fantastic, we all got to see the whole procedure - first the bees emerging and congregating in the sky awaiting Her Maj’; next they moved around a little seeking a pit stop - what a noise they make no wonder the general public are terrified!!! Then, again through further meticulous planning by Sarah & Robin, they all began to alight then settle on a bush in the garden forming two rather large clusters. The whole procedure taking maybe an hour overall.

The chance was too good to miss so we all set about either collecting the swarm or catching the whole thing on camera (please don’t forget to send me some pic’s). With a further demonstration from Robin on how docile a swarm is (you should have seen him running away like a total wimp - ouch!) the clusters were duly collected and, in truly democratic style, were left to decide for themselves whether they wanted to move to Yatton or Kingston Seymour by being a given the choice of two boxes.

The bravery award of the day must surely go to Gabriel who took a sting full on the face and acted as if nothing had happened – brave chap.

Hive Building
Once all the swarm catching shenanigans were over attention turned to the hive building and four groups spent the afternoon and some of the early evening getting 4 more Warré hives built – well most of the structure was completed for 4 x 4 box hives – no mean order give the late start. Again the weather was kind to us (how do R&S do it?!!) and a real sense of fun and comrade was experience which helped along the very hard work put in. The only skivers were Robin & Beanie who escaped the hard work for an hour to respond to a swarm call from Clevedon.

Not bad for a bee day eh? A really successful meeting, a live swarm demonstration and four new hives mostly built. How do we top that next time?!! Our thanks to all who took part and made this yet another enjoyable day.


Photos by Ray
Video by Jenny

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