Friday, March 13, 2009
I captured the first swarm of the year that I have heard of happening. My feelers are out in as many places as I could put them to notify people that I wanted a swarm. The hive that produced the first swarm is in the perfect location to collect warmth against a stone wall in a well protected back yard. They were very docile because the swarm was only a couple of hours old and full of honey, warm, and with no hive to protect. Having landed on a loquat branch about 3 feet off the ground it was a simple procedure to capture them just by clipping enough leaves off the branch until they had all dropped into the hive sitting on a table below them. The hive had seven foundations (this allowed room for the leaf drop and bees) in it that had been used by a previous colony so once they were in they had no desire to flee and set up pheromone producing bees immediately to signal all their bees that a home had been found. It was the first time I had collected a hive so I was glad it was a very fresh swarm (a wet swarm) and everything fell into place so easily.
It was my first time to collect a swarm but I came prepared with two sizes of ladder, loppers, rope, toothpaste, plastic card, cell phone, and all the clothing that a rational, well-read person would wear (all white, baggy, sealed at wrists/ankles) with rubber banding at ankles/wrists and a bee hat. The reception box was roped shut and the entry blocked once the bees were inside for safe transportation. Looked like I knew what I was doing, anyway. It was fun. The main things to remember are to have a calm demeanor and know what you are going to do next no matter which way the situation progresses. (Running away screaming is not one of them.)
"What happens if..." This should be going through your head at each point of possible divergence in probable activity. Choke points...
Rain total to date: 17.5 inches. Average rainfall is about 30 inches. Official rain season ends June 30. Usual rain season is from early October to the end of March.