Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chloe's Bees

    I'm in the process of setting up two of my grand daughters with beehives.  The last time I visited Autumn and Chloe I got them started with the apprentice level book of the Master Beekeeper program of the Washington State Beekeepers Association.  Hopefully they are making progress on their homework and will have at least finished reading the booklet by the time I deliver their bees to them. We also spent some time repainting some used bee boxes, lids, and bottom boards. I have some 3/4 deep boxes which are somewhat of an odd size. I carry them in the store, but very few people use them anymore. I inherited them from my daughter, Rachel, when she stopped doing bees. I had two cans of exterior latex house paint I had left over from a painting project.  The girls opted to paint their hives a light yellow color, a good choice for Western Oregon, where the weather averages about five degrees warmer than what we get in Snohomish.

    I had hived a package of bees for Autumn this past Saturday and had intended to do a package of bees for Chloe at the same time.  Unfortunately, Quentin, my sole employee at the Beez Neez had been  very diligent in selling off the extra bee packages so we only ended up with two "extra" packages.  I had the only two extra packages already loaded in the van to take home as we were getting ready to close up the shop at 4:30 pm on Saturday afternoon. Then up walks a customer who we had already crossed off the list by mistake. My heart sank as she asked to pick up her bees. That left me with only one package to take home for the girls instead of the two I had planned.

     Fast forward to Monday afternoon. The Beez Neez is closed on Monday but Quentin had just happened to stop by the store to place orders with some of our suppliers. While he was at the store a swarm call came in that appeared to be "low hanging fruit". That translates to a good sized swarm in an easy location, in this case on a bush, a few feet off the ground. Quentin suggested we retrieve the swarm for the grand daughters in Oregon.  We arrived at the location in the Silver Lake area at about 2:15 pm. About ten minutes before our arrival the bees had decided to change locations and was in the process of moving to a rhododendron bush across the street.  This was the honeybee equivalent of a "Chinese Fire Drill". The air was filled with bees and there was nothing we could do but wait for them to settle down at their new location.  This took about 45 minutes.  Quentin then vacuumed up the bees while I supervised (watched). There were still  a fair amount of bees in the air when he finished so we placed the vacuum cage full of bees in a shady spot so the remaining bees would eventually coalesce onto the cage's ventilation screens.

    I returned at about 6:00 am the following morning and picked up the vacuum cage, now with about an additional half pound of bees clustered on the vent screens. I put the cage in the back of my beater cargo van where the loose bees calmly stayed put for the ten minute ride back to Snohomish. I took
the video above of the bees filling the air.  The video turned out well but I had some difficulty uploading it to the blog. I finally got it to upload but I wasn't able to make it bigger. I think it still gives a good sample of the air filled with bees.  Next time I won't delete videos that I want to upload to the blog so I can try to upload it directly from the phone.

Chloe's bees in the process of relocating to a different bush.


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