Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Swarm or Two

Back in December 2009, I helped Steve Rosales collect some bees from a tree . That time we had his bee vac and this was hive of bees that had been living there for a couple years. Those bees were moved to a new hive owed by Ed Garcia.

Last week at the bee meeting, Ed showed up to let us know his bees had absconded, maybe due to a wax moth issue, maybe because only the bees really know. In any case Ed did not have bees.

The weather here in Southern California has been very nice, 70-85 the last few days and swarms have been popping all over the place. The Bee Rescue Hot Line has been going crazy. I have all the bees I can handle at the moment (the Playa Vista bees seem to like it here) so I have just been scanning the rescue announcements with no intentions of collecting any. Then as I was watching my favorite British EPL Soccer team, Fulham, take it to the Germans, Wolfsburg, in the UEFA Cup, another Rescue alert popped up.

"Ed Garcia has an emergency bee situation. The office building he's working at wants to kill the little swarm that's about 5 feet off the ground and easily accessible. He wanted to do it himself this afternoon, but HR at his company doesn't want to wait that long."

I wondered if it was the same Ed Garcia from December and who had lost his bees. A few minutes later my phone rang and I had my answer. It was that Ed. Before I protest that I was too involved in a most important soccer game , Ed suggested we meet at 5:30. That was a grand option for me and I was able to enjoy Fulham's victory.

Ed called at 5 to let me know there were now two swarms, not just one. Not a problem, I already had two nuc's in my truck with my other stuff and I was on the way.

There were two swarms but this one was beyond my skills. Maybe if it "reaches out and touches someone" GTE will send a crew to open their phone hole and deal with them. In any case this lid was too heavy and sealed, no way was I going to try to get those bees.

The other swam was in a more practical location. This was the classic football sized swam about 6 ft up in a little tree outside Ed's office.

This would prove much easier than my attempted tree rescue last Friday and no stings and swollen face either. This was anther gentle swarm, my luck was changing.

Ed thought they would do well at his place. So I sprayed them with sugar water and after placing the nuc under the swarm Ed gave the tree a couple of whacks and down they came.

A lot of the bees were in the nuc but there still bees in the tree. We took our time watching to see if the bees were flying down to the nuc or back up to the tree branch. It seemed the queen was in the nuc but there was no way to be sure.

There were still bees up there. After waiting a while I hoisted the nuc up and brushed bees inside (they never seem to like that) and followed later by giving the branch another whack or two. The majority of the bees were in the nuc but there were still a good number not inside. I had plans for the evening and this was not a place to leave a nuc overnight for wandering bees to enter as I had done with the Playa Vista bees. We took another option.

I propped the nuc right against the branch with most of the bees and was trying to tie it off and not being very successful until Ed remembered a bungie cord in his office. That was the perfect solution, the nuc was locked into position and the bees should be all in within the hour. The sun was going down and the bees would prefer to be inside for the evening.

The bees at the left are doing the good thing and marching right into the nuc. The same thing was happening at the other end. Ed would stay for the next hour before putting the lid on the nuc and taking them to their new home. I was off to my appointment. Everyone should be happy. Tomorrow I will contact Ed and see how the new bees are doing.

Another swarm saved and new skills and ideas learned. Ma Bell will have to deal with her bees.


Ed said...

Hello Dennis.
The bees and I thank you for sharing your expertise. They came home with me that evening and I put them on top of the box that had been abandoned by the previous hive. I put a paper plate with honey at the bottom of the box. The bees really seemed to like it. They moved from the cardboard trap into the old hive by the time I got back from work the next day and have been very busily living there since.

Dennis In The Dale said...

I am glad they decided to stay around. It is a crap shoot anytime you collect and house a swarm.