3/9/10

Phil and Erik find bees in birdhouses

Backwards Beekeeper Phil sends this story:

I answered an ad on Craigslist for “Bees for Hiving” which was placed by a lovely lady named Linda who takes care of Bluebird boxes all around the Yorba Linda area. I guess swarming honeybees LOVE these boxes and you can see from the pics why. She gets about twenty swarms a spring and promises to call us from now on.


I called Erik from Homegrown Evolution and he graciously agreed to come along for the pick up. We got there at dusk on Friday, armed with about 20 feet of screen-wire and enough duct tape to cover the Golden Gate Bridge.

We ended up taping about a foot of wire over the two holes on the front of the box and were on our way. We took two boxes with swarms and one box that “may” have had some brood that Erik could use later for a trap out. This was like fast food bee swarm pick-up; the boxes even have a big handle!



We took one box to a friend of Erik’s and I took the other to my home, cut a hole in the screen and left them on the hive box to acclimate. It rained all day Saturday, so I put an umbrella over the box, and the bees were surprisingly active, especially in the sea of blooming wisteria above their heads.


Erik arrived Sunday morning and we went to work lacing up some frames in hopes of lots of comb.


We suited up and smoked the Bluebird box a few times and let them settle in.


Here’s what we saw when we took the door off the box.


At that point I was ready to stop everything and call Kirk, as we couldn’t see which way the comb was facing, but Erik persevered and brushed enough bees aside to get a look at the comb.

We managed to cut out enough comb for four frames and found some lovely brood.


We buttoned everything up and went and had lunch and when we went back, there was a large group on the ground and we had a little panic attack thinking maybe the queen was down. We suited up again and scooped up all the bees and put them back in the hive. At one point we thought we saw the Queen, but later realized it was a drone.

After that everybody settled in surprisingly quickly. I would say within thirty minutes, it looked like a normally functioning hive box. I was thrilled.


About seven that night, like a worried parent, I went out to check on the hive and I found about a hundred bees bearding on the ground below the hive. Very weird, as it was cold and the rest of the hive had long since tucked in. I called Kirk and he told me to go out and scoop them up and put them back in. They were cold, so it was pretty easy and things have been fine since then.


Now we just need to see if we got the queen! Thanks again to Erik, who really stepped up and took the reins and Kirk for taking my call at 7:00 at night with a calming tone and some sage advice!


Here's some bonus video from Phil's adventure:

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