When we left our last installment, which appeared to be a swarm off the swarm from the little cedar that took to clustering in the loganberries, we found that capturing the bees off a fencepost was not a particularly easy or smooth operation, particularly compared with the first swarm event where we just encouraged them to move into a new hive.
I got up early the following morning to check the hives. Usually our bees follow Banker’s hours – it doesn’t warm up until about 9:00 a.m. and they don’t venture out much before then. But this morning, it was sunny by 7 and they were out in full force – but only those in the two new swarm hives. Hmmmm….What’s going on here?
(a short video, less than 2 min)
With some trepidation, I ventured into the berry patch. Lots of bees in the air, so unusual for this time in the morning…and there again, on the same branch, a cluster of bees – only smaller this time. They must still be detecting Queen pheromones, I thought….but what do I do about it? Several bees buzzed around me, and I was fairly certain they knew me as the evil giant who brushed them off the post. I could not change the past, only learn from it (hopefully).
(another less-than-2-min video)
Unlike yesterday, today it would have been easy to cut the branch they were on and place it in a box, but I hesitated. I listened to the morning birds, enjoyed the rare warmth at this time of day, and watched them gathering in increasing numbers around each other. Perhaps it would be best not to mess with this little cluster. I am a huge believer in minimal interference when it comes to beekeeping, and I had obviously broken my vows. Perhaps the lesson here was that we should not try to control everything. I admit, I do not fully understand their ways – not even remotely – and although I don’t want to be irresponsible, I also have to acknowledge that the bees probably know what is best for them.
I watched, marveled, and walked away.
So – Did they stay in their new hive?
Sadly, no. Two days later, there was nobody home. Did I miss the Queen? Lose her? Kill her? Without a queen, they would have no reason to stay. But maybe, having been dumped in a place (no matter how nice) that they did not choose themselves – nor even have time to become acquainted with – was more disruption than introduction; meaning, I did not introduce them to a new hive; I forced them into one, albeit with good intentions.
Where they went is anybody’s guess, but we thought they might have rejoined the bees from the first swarm that was on the little cedar, now in Hive 3. This hive seemed to have a lot more bees and activity and seemed to be doing quite well. Workers were bringing in pollen. Everyone seemed to have a purpose. It’s something we all seek, is it not?
In the following days, everything seemed to be settling back into a routine; three full hives was a good number. I would be happy with that.
But We Were Only Just Beginning …..