You never have a camera when you need one…

I got home yesterday to find that our shed in the backyard was overflowing with bees, enough so that I honestly wondered if a swarm had moved in even though it is much too late for swarming.

To add to the situation, all my beekeeping gear is in there and that shed is the dividing line between our parking area and our neighbor’s area. The bees were all over their cars and generally swarming the area. It was bad enough that I would not have blamed them if they had made a few calls to the “authorities.”

So I stood outside the shed staring at it and the thousands of bees swarming around it wondering what to do. It was about this time that Courtney came up behind me. I don’t remember what she said, but it had the basic feel of “better you than me.” With that she retreated to the far corner of the yard to watch….

I spent a few minutes watching the bees to see if I could notice anything that would clue me in on what was happening. I began to notice a definite drift of bees from the shed to the hives and back. With that, I assumed they had found something in there and were robbing it out. Robbers/foragers aren’t stingers (generally), so I opened up the shed and walked in to a cloud of a few thousand bees without a shred of protective gear.

And it was…

… magical.

I love those bees. 🙂

It was wonderful to stand in that shed with the rich buzz of their wings and the near constant brush of their bodies on my arms, face, and head. I took the first few minutes and just soaked it in. If you could climb inside a hive and just watch, I’m guessing it would be something similar to that.

I eventually found what they were going after: a medium box of old comb with, apparently, a touch of honey still in it. This was a super I had pulled over a year ago and set aside after the first freeze. There wasn’t enough in it to worry about harvesting, and the comb was full of pollen anyway, which is hard to deal with sometimes. I forgot about this year, and it spent the summer sitting in the shed unnoticed until yesterday. I’m not sure how they finally found it.

I pulled that super out of the shed and set it outside near the hives, and the swarm moved almost immediately from the shed to the super. Looking at it, it looks like wax moths went crazy on the comb/honey left in there. I should have known that would happen.

If the weather holds this Saturday, I’ll go through that super and clean everything up. And this time when it goes back in the shed, I’ll wrap it in plastic to protect it.

I can’t imagine what would have happened had we been out of town! Our neighbors are very understanding, but I imagine I’m one of a relatively small number who found the experience of standing in the middle of a swarm exciting.

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7 Responses to You never have a camera when you need one…

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Sounds wonderful – I’m sure I would be among those relatively small number! Us beekeepers are barmy!

  2. This post filled me with terror like none other. Oh. My. Gosh. Going to have nightmares.

  3. How do you clean out the wax moth destruction? I had wax moths on a couple of frames in a hive that didn’t make it. Since we were getting ready to have some very cold weather for a few days, I just kept them outside so they would leave or die (whatever they do) but I didn’t clean up the foundation. Should I just replace it? (this is my first year at beekeeping and, like you, I am filtering through information from different sources)

    • daveloveless says:

      Well, welcome! I hope you fall in love with your girls and just enjoy it. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

      Wax moths… Last year was the first year I’ve dealt with them, and I admit I’m not entirely sure what the experts would do. I suspect most big operations just throw it out, but for me, that’s too painful. I scrape everything as best I can and leave it for the bees. I would suggest freezing the frames to kill any wax moth eggs/larvae/pupae because they are nasty little beasts that will cause you untold grief. If you have wood frames, you might consider the classic “run a blow torch across them” tactic. It doesn’t bother the bees to get smokey wood, and it kills whatever is on the frame. If you have plastic (like me), go with freezing. I just left mine in the shed over winter and they froze in there.

      The other suggestions I would give you are to wrap up your unused equipment tight and have strong hives. I typically put them in a big yard garbage bag and tie it off. As for the strong hives, a strong hive will take care of the problem for you. Keep the space down to what they need (with room to grow) so that the bees are vigilante of the whole hive and caring for it.

      Good luck!

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