Thursday, April 24, 2008

swarm capture part two

part one
it failed miserably. yesterday the robust hive swarmed and lit about thirty feet high on a cedar branch. i came home and tabitha relayed the crazy swarming highlights. the swarm was so high in the air that we had to set up a rube goldberg series of ladders. tabitha wielded the electric pole saw while i held a huge trash can underneath. part of the swarm fell into the trash can while the other part took flight. we set up a new hive bottom and encouraged them in. some of the went.. mostly they disappeared. later when i checked the new hive it was completely vacant. arrgh...

part two, day two

today tabitha found the swarm again. it was much lower to the ground. while i was at work tabitha pored over the internet regarding catching swarms. armed with new better information we prepared for the wrangling. we assembled the necessary wrangling equipment and costumes. the hive was entangled in the fence. internet instructions suddenly became defunct.
compelled by the recent failure to overcome we surmised a plan. tabitha, who was not in the proper costume, would hold a flat board against the swarm. i would then put the hive recepticle under them and shake the fence, post and cross member vigorously while she pushed on the swarm. i mean real vigorously. most of them fell into the hive receptacle.

i promptly placed the cover on top. we had them--the queen. the illustrious queen without whom a hive has no meaning. the rest of the bees wanted in. they squirmed and swarmed but still docile. i tenatively opened the bottom entrance screen hoping that the flow of bees would move in and not out. we want the bees in the hive. as luck would have it they moved in but only after several undulations that were not convincing me of inward progress. finally all but a hundred or so went in.

i took the screen and scraped most of them in and sealed the door. the few remaining bees were mad--they wanted in. i didn't care i had successfully captured thousands and thousands of bees and these few could just go back to the other hive.

the hive is successfully closed and i'll feed them sugar water for a few days. their scouts will have time to give up and stop trying to find better places than my intended hive. they will return to the old hive or die. the queen and bees will have plenty of time to settle into their new digs. at the end of the weekend i'll let them loose and they can start their new endeavor.

just before the bee wrangling tabitha found a frog in th field. he was huge. he looked tasty to me but i was the only one that really thought about eating his legs.


here is proof, besides me, that tabitha will kiss anything.

15 comments:

sugarcreekfarm said...

Wow, what an adventure with the bees! Tabitha is one brave chick. I couldn't have gotten that close.

And I've never seen a frog so ginormous!

hillbilly2be said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielle said...

Wow, that's a bit more excitement than I'd like around the farmstead! Gotta love those rise to the challenge moments, and it sounds like you two definitely did!

I can't believe how big that frog is!

Robbyn said...

Wow, my heroes! It's awesome you were able to hive that swarm!!

Madeline said...

So exciting that you succeeded! That gives me hope for if mine (which we got because they were a swarming on a neighbor's friend's mailbox)decided to bolt. I finally got my helmet and gloves and will be seeing them up close and personal, tonight. I love the frog and princess picture! I have never seen one that big.

mamabug said...

good lord, that is a big frog! What a cute picture of little kassi with such a big frog.

I'm glad to hear you captured part of the swarm... do bees try to get away? I had not known of that! why wouldn't they just stay in their cozy hive?

jayedee said...

good for you guys! isn't it exciting? i loveeeee my bees!

tell tabitha i understand completely about the frog......you have to kiss quite a few to find a prince! lol

R. Sherman said...

Greetings and thanks for visiting my site and commenting. The more the merrier, as they say.

I've been poking around here and find your adventure inspiring. (I agree with you about Branson, BTW.) I shall try to return to keep up.

Cheers.

The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

Congrats on your success in bee wrangling!
Panda has to kiss evry frog we catch, too.
BTW- it is also a male frog Tabitha is kissing. Just in the case you did not know. The ear circle is bigger then the eye which means it is male. Smaller then the eye would be female.
I learned that from my little frog kisser...

HeyJulieMama said...

OMG, I couldn't not comment. That is the biggest, most beautiful frog I've ever seen. Your kids must have been thrilled.

Rurality said...

So, what happened after he turned into a prince??? I can't believe you're leaving us in suspense like that.

Christy said...

What an adventure! That is one huge frog!

Ed Abbey said...

In the winter, one of my projects was always building new brood frames. Then before spring swarming season arrived, we would pull out some of the full brood frames and replace them with the new ones. This keeps the bees busy drawing up new cells and filling them with brood and prevents swarming most of the time. Once they have their brood frames full, especially in the spring, the are most likely to swarm. Also, older queens swarm more often then new ones for some reason. After two seasons, we usually killed the old queen and bought replacement queens.

I've never seen a fool proof plan for catching swarms, mostly because no two swarm sites are the same. Generally what I always did was spread a white sheet underneath the swarm with a new hive nearby with plenty of space and food already inside. I would do like you do and shake the devil out of them to knock them into the hive and onto the white sheet which calms them and makes it easier for them to crawl on into the hive. Perhaps 75% of the time it worked, the other 25% of the time it didn't. When it didn't, we would split strong hives to make up for the loss. This also prevents swarming since only the strong colonies swarm.

It is definitely a learning experience dealing with bees but worth the reward when you extract all that honey.

Nicole said...

That might be the biggest frog I've ever seen!

Tori said...

I'm so interested, I'm going to check a book out from the library on bees! Huge frog, I bet the legs would have been tasty... Please tell Tabitha I miss her, only a few more months & baby will be here.
Tori from Alameda & xanga, too.

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