Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
This is a guest post and entry in Round 2 of the Farm Dreams writing contest. The prizes for this round include:
Door #1: A Travel Royal Berkey Walter Purification system from Directive 21. Valued at $228!
Door #2: Two
Super Survival Seed packs from Seed for Security. Valued at $150!
Door #3: A 164' roll of electric
poultry netting from Kencove. Valued at $140!
Door #4: A
60 serving entree pack of emergency food from MyFoodStorage.com. Valued at $119!
Door #5: A $100 gift certificate from
Baker Creek Seeds! Valued at $100.
Round 2 ends began May 7 and ends July 7 so GET BUSY WRITING and
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While standing in front of our bee hives, one started spilling out in great numbers. It was just like being in a horror movie. The very air was blanketed with them and the buzzing sound was all I could hear. Our Russian bees were swarming. Luckily, it happened while we were home. It was our first time dealing with a swarm and by the end of the day, we had learned a few leasons.
After, our paralysis broke, we had to figure out what to to. I ran and got the ladder, my husband got hisbee suit. He had another top-bar hive started, but not finished, no legs. So he grabbed the partially finished hive. I got a bucket. He climbed the ladder, which was of course to short. Then he needed something to cut off the branch they had swarmed to. We could not find a saw, we could not find hedge clippers. After completely tearing apart the room, we found a very small hand saw and bolt cutters. I was pleasently surprised with the bolt cutters, they were great for removing the small
My husband leaned the ladder onto a branch that was much to small to be called a branch, and started to saw. I was under the ladder, trying to hold it for him, and as he sawed, some of the bees fell and carpeted my hair. I tried to remain calm, because I didn't want to let go of the ladder. The bees were not all together, but gathered on two separate branches. So, he had to remove both. Finally, he got them down and we got them into the new hive. But wait, we still didn't have the legs on the new hive. So, I turned one bucket upside down and propped one end of the hive on it. The other, I tried to lift, while my husband started to attach the legs. The end with the bucket started to slip, and I lost it. Over it went onto the ground. Now, there were many ticked off bees. Did I mention I don't have a bee suit? Luckily, they didn't sting me, but did get Cullen a few times through his suit.
Now, let me stop here and tell you what should have happen. First thing, is to remain calm, and come up with a game plan. A swarm consists of the queen and about half of the colony. Once they have settled on a place to land, you should have a decent window of time. Could be a half hour, could be a day. The workers, will scout out new locations, and when they find one acceptable, they will start to fan and call the others to them. Your plan will differ depending on where the bees decide to land. Assess if you need a ladder and how long. Get dressed in your bee suit. Swarms are generally calm, but in your hurry you may squash one, setting off alarm bells (or alarm smells) to the others. Grab a bucket, or cardboard box to put the bees in. Grab your bee brush, you may be able to simply brush the swarm into your box or bucket. Also, grab some saws incase you need to cut away branches. You may want to get your smoker, or if you have a helper, have them get it ready for you, just in case.
It is said that bees like the smell of lemongrass, and this we did have. So put a couple of drops onto a cotton ball, and drop into your new top bar hive. After, you have the bees caught turn the bucket or box upside down, giving it a light smack or shake and dump everbody in. Just don't dump them over.
If you are going to try to be farmer, you must get organized. We have no out-buildings or sheds at our place, so space is very limited. As a result, our back store room has become a catch-all. When the bees swarmed, we were not prepared.
We finally managed to get ours in their new hive and got the legs on. The bees began to fan. Heads down low, butts in the air, with their wings fanning. Sending a scent to the others to come to their new home. After seeing that, we were confident we had the queen. This is important, you must have the queen or the bees may leave. Now, everyone seems happy in their new home. I know it didn't go very smooth, but I'm still proud we did it.
So, the lessons we learned were be organized! Emergencies will come up, and it helps to know where everything is, and have a game plan. Also, always have extra supplies on hand. If you plan on catching your swarms have extra boxes. Or set out swarm traps. Life will be much easier. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt, to make sure you have a long enough ladder.
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