Bee Watch – August Swarms

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Honey bees swarm in a natural propagation process, creating two or more colonies from one by colony division; usually this takes place early in the summer / late spring giving both parts of the divided colony time to recover and fill their honey reserves before winter. But I had an August swarm from one of my biggest colonies.

As is typical, the swarm flew just a few yards from the parent colony; there the swarm hung in a tree, bending the branch over due to the weight of the swarm.

This made my collection quite simple; I gently lifted a polystyrene “nucleus” box from under the swarm until it was all inside then gave the branch a tug so all the bees dropped into the box. I then added the frames and gave the colony a sugar syrup feed using the feed reservoir within the box, closed the lid and opened the access door so all the stragglers could enter and the foragers could fly out for nectar and pollen; easy peasy.

Next stage to re-locate the colony to an out apiary, I had a “brood and a half” hive with mostly drawn comb frames, carefully lifted the 6 frames of bees from the nucleus box into the middle of the 11 frames in the wooden brood box. Bee hives tend to be made from cedar so they last a long time, to this colony I added a feeder chamber and gave the bees a full rapid feeder full, they emptied this by Friday so I topped it up.

Healthy calm bees in the sun, but being in the countryside wasps can be a nuisance so I made some traps for the whole apiary and in a couple of days had trapped quite a few. Wasps are highly attracted to bee hives in the late summer and we need to make sure they are protected.

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