Sticky Acres

The Log Bees Swarm!

I was outside, drinking red Kool-Aid, sorting the recycling, when I noticed that the air over the vegetable garden was full of bees. I didn’t know if it was a mating flight, a swarm, or a hive being robbed, so I ran inside and put on my bee gear so I could get a closer look at the action.

By the time I zipped up and ran back outside, there was a flurry of bees in the air and I could see bees crowding at the entrance of the bee log, waiting to take off. I noticed that the bees were especially thick around the nectarine tree at the end of the yard, so I went back inside the house and grabbed the camera in order to take pictures of the bees in flight for the bee blog.

When I came back out, that’s when I noticed the swarm hanging off a couple branches of the bougainvillea behind the nectarine tree. Naturally, they had to choose the bougainvillea. The super thorny asshole plant that I hate bougainvillea.

I took the nuc box, that I had already baited with swarm lure two days ago, down from its perch on the pergola in the side yard, and quickly assembled a stand for it by the nectarine tree from crap we had on hand.

This was when I realized that our awesome, purchased for just this purpose, powerhouse squirt bottle was in the back of my boyfriend’s car which was parked at the office. Curses! I used my dinky Tupperware mister designed for spraying orchids and setting makeup, to hose down the bees.

Of course Kirk has to make everything look easy in the videos. The bees had an iron grip on the bougainvillea. I had to mist and brush and bonk the branches six times to get the bees off the plant and into the collander I was using to catch and transfer the wet bees to the nuc box. After an hour of bonking and misting, there are still bunches of moist little swarmlettes hunkered down in the bougainvillea. Hopefully I got the queen inside the nuc box and everyone will figure out where to go by tomorrow.

UPDATE (4pm): It appears that I got the queen into the nuc box as the bees are using the entrance hole in the box to enter and exit, and the little swarmlettes have disappeared. Hopefully everyone is finding their way to the new home.

NOTE TO SELF: When dumping several thousand damp bees into the nuc box, make sure that the tool bag containing all the beekeeping equipment is not sitting next to it.

Two hours after making this boo boo, there are still bees hanging out in all the little pockets of the tool bag.

I’m such a tool bag sometimes. *sigh* It looks like I’m going to have to leave the bag outside overnight to ensure complete bee vacancy.

SECOND NOTE TO SELF: Drinking red flavored Kool-Aid in advance of facing several thousand swarming bees is possibly not a good idea. The bees kept congregating on the front of my veil because my breath probably smelled like hummingbird feeder mix.

UPDATE (10am, February 19th): I didn’t get the queen in the nuc box. This morning we discovered the bees bearding on the ground by the wheelbarrow. Naturally the ground on this part of the yard is coated with bougainvillea leaves and spiny twigs, in what amounts to a very mean-spirited and prickly mulch. I hate that plant. At any rate, I squirted down the bee beard and tried to use my bee brush to scoot the mass onto a box lid that I had rigged as a super-sized dustpan. About half the bees ended up on the box lid. I dumped them back into the nuc box, along with a fair amount of dead plant matter. (Annoying). The other half of the wet bees started scurrying for cover under all the bougainvillea mulch. Taking care not to squish anyone, I started lifting the mulch mixed with wet bees into the box lid with my hands. Then I put the box lid on top of the closed nuc box, hoping that the bees would excavate themselves from the mulch and walk down the front of the nuc box to the entrance. I still have no idea if I got the queen in the box or not. I’ll check later today and see if there are bees inside the nuc.

UPDATE (5pm, February 19th): I checked inside the nuc box. There’s a small cluster of bees inside. Hopefully the queen is in there. I poured some honey on top of the frames as a reward for bee valor. Those ladies have been through a lot.

UPDATE (10am, February 20th): Bees are going in and out of the nuc box so it looks like the swarm has moved in! I’m hoping that the queen is in there, and it’s not just a box of worker bees. I haven’t seen any of the bees bringing pollen back, so I don’t know what this means.

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