Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bees on the Loose!

    I had a busy day at the bee store today. It was our first day of business after all of the package bees were sold.  The thirty extra packages we hived will probably not last long.  Seven were spoken for before the end of the day.  We also had a swarm call today.  I tried to pass it on but wasn't able to find someone able to retrieve it.  I consulted with Quentin who decided it was my turn to do a recreational swarm call.

    This particular swarm was located at a storage rental place behind the Panther Square strip center in Snohomish.  It was about 15 feet up in a cedar tree, but was in the interior portion of the branches rather than hanging out in the open.  In order to reach the swarm I had to cut away a number of dead limbs and clear a path for me and the ladder.  After a bit of prep work I was able to get 80 percent of the swarm into a cardboard box with some window screen added for ventilation.  Rather than reopen the box and attempt to add the remaining 20 percent to the box,  I grabbed an empty bee package shipping container and collected the stragglers in that.  It went fairly well considering the inconvenient location of the swarm.  I put the bees in the back of the van and headed back to the bee store.  The entire job took little more than a half an hour, including the time it took me to drive home and get my lopers.

   Back at the store I left the bees in the back of the van with the rear doors open and got busy helping customers.  We planned to hive the bees for a customer who wanted to buy one of our hived packages. However, his equipment consisted of all western size boxes and frames rather than the larger deep frames we had used to hive the extra packages.  The plan was to assemble two western boxes and the necessary frames, then take the swarm home and hive them for the customer.  About a half hour later a customer asked me why there were so many bees in my van.  I looked outside and realized we had lost containment on the swarm.  The duct tape I had used to close up the cardboard box and failed and the bees were on the loose again. My van looked like a scene from a movie about killer bees.  I had to wait for an hour or more before the bees settled down into about 5 or 6 different clumps at various locations within my van.  Then it took another hour to corral them all with my trusty bee vacuum.  It really could have been much worse.  The bees could have staged their escape while I was driving the van.   Then I might have been driving a bit distracted.  As it was it was merely the inconvenience of capturing the swarm a second time. The big question mark at this point is whether the queen got through all of that without injury.

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