LA newbee Jan writes:
Yesterday, about 2:00, my next-door-neighbor Marty called, saying, "You've got a problem." We'd had a swarm of bees settle on our house. I love bees, but Marty was hiding in his house and a bunch of other neighbors were freaking out; there were going to be tons of people coming for the 4th on 4th Street. I found Backwards Beekeepers online. The person I spoke to doubted anyone was available on the holiday, but said he'd contact a volunteer who lives in Manhattan. Susan came over and voila! We learned about their group and all kinds of bee and hive stuff. So cool.
The original group landed on the house, by the chimney.
The cluster got bigger, spreading to the pittosporum, so we braced the branch out with a 2x4 to split it and encourage them to leave. They didn't.
Marty was scared they were Africanized 'killer' bees, but they were harmless Western honey bees who, having outgrown their old hive, were looking for a home. Susan told us they assign and send out scouts. The remaining bees follow the scouts, clustering around the queen to protect her while they're outside and she's vulnerable. Because she's not built to fly, she tires easily and has to rest. That was what was happening here....they'd most likely stay overnight and move on in the morning to find a permanent spot where it was dark and the entry area was small and easy to defend (hopefully not our attic or between our walls). The queen is in the middle of the 'branch' group. The 'house' bees on the right eventually moved over to the branch.
Susan arrived with her portable hive....
....complete with a ready-for-occupancy bee condo, taken from one of her own hives. Her box holds 5 of these. The boxes we see on orchards each hold 10 each. You can see the bee 'bread' (their food) in most of the darker cells, and honey in the upper left, lighter area.
The 'tree' cluster turned out to be a good thing, enabling her to trim little branches away, then cut the top off and place it, along with the swarm, into her box.
We both stood close by for at least 45 minutes without one sting. Apparently, regardless of where they are, all the bees return at night to rest, and that's the best time to move them. Susan returned at 9:00 pm and took the box to her house to start a new hive.
Susan said the city of Manhattan Beach refers calls to her. She told me my call was good timing; she'd just gotten up from a nap after going out at 3:30 am to collect a swarm on 12th St! Here's Susan with the portable box on the roof behind her. You can see some of the scouts returning.