22 July 2016

Swarm capture with a yacht mast

While tending the hive in the garden yesterday, Winn came back with news of bees seen swarming in the Churchyard down the road, so we all wandered down to check out the sight. Yes, there was a swarm, almost twenty feet up into a crab apple tree. A bait trap laced with attractant was hung out from a lower branch and left over night.
This morning no movement was detected - the swarm still intact but out of reach. So at 8am the solution presents itself and my dinghy mast retrieved from Coomb Cellars and brought home. A large plastic box was tied securely at the top of the mast and Courtenay and me donned our bee suits and gloves. The balancing act of trying to manoeuvre this unwieldy assembly then saw us doing some sort of Morris Dance amongst the gravestones as the box was inched closer to the swarm.  Once we were satisfied the box was within inches of the swarm and directly underneath, one sharp thrust of the mast upwards and against the branch dislodged the complete swarm, which fell into the box.
The chaotic lowering of the mast to the horizontal almost ended in disaster as the weight of swarm and box combined meant that the mast could only just be lowered to the ground without a loss of control. The ground quite uneven and peppered with molehills. Courtenay took a tumble and rolled across the path. Cries of unholy mirth rang out across the churchyard. Those souls departed whose bones lay beneath our feet would be rocking in the aisle beyond heaven's gate, should they be awake and watching.
As soon as the box touched ground we were able to let go of the mast, and gingerly attach a lid to confine the bees, leaving it slightly ajar. A retreat was made, and after coffee we returned to find calm once more,  the swarm safely contained - the stragglers from high in the tree had flown down into the midst of the swarm which was then taken back to a hive ready and waiting. Prepared  with several bars of foundation and three partly drawn out combs which will give them a head start. By mid day we declared mission accomplished. 

By midday Courtenay's hive was housing  the newly collected swarm


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