In addition to being called out to collect swarms you will get asked about bees that have already made a home, where it’s not ideal! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a few calls, we had the bees in a box which I posted about in a previous post which was a lovely prepackaged set of bees. The next two required some extra planning and thought. The first one was a call to a colony in the roof of an old toilet block.
As a beekeeper you can say no to any call out, it is purely voluntary. If it’s not safe, do not do it. As I’m keen to help as many bees as I can I agreed to come and have a look, but no promises. I was presented with what looked a busy hive, but not something I was able to tackle without some serious equipment.
Luckily the owner of the land was a mechanic and a whizz with his fork lift truck and happy to wear my spare suit in case he upset the bees whilst removing items off the top of the roof.
After making sure I had a secure and safe platform to work from the whizz with the forklift lifted the roof enough for me to gain access and remove each comb and splice them onto frames and put them into a hive, then place the hive where the combs had been. I was able to collect up and encourage a lot of bees into their new home, hoping the rest would follow.
As you can see a lot stubbornly stayed outside the entrance, even at bedtime. I managed to get most inside before I took the hive away to my apiary though. What surprised me was that although there were a lot of bees, there were very little stores, just a tiny patch of nectar on a small piece of comb. Hitting a bad patch of weather could have been the end of these bees and I was worried about how placid they were, I was scooping them up in my hands and putting them in, remember this was not a swarm! Once home I fed them straight away as I was so worried about them and on my last check they were massively more energetic and alive. I feel I got to them just in time.
Sunday morning I went and collected something much more simple, bees in the front of a shed. Removing a panel I gained access to a small colony which I transferred into my polynuc, using frames and rubber bands again. As above there was little to this colony, clearly a very recent swarm, probably a cast. Worth saving though, again quite quiet and slow. Now being fed they are much, much happier looking and hopefully will thrive.