20,000 Bees Join The Family
Well, I am a beekeeper now.
A kind neighbor, Art agreed to give me a nucleus colony of bees to get me started. A nucleus is usually about three frames ( out of ten ) with all the correct apiary ingredients to foster into a full blown hive over much of a year.
I was in luck though....
During Art's family vacation, one of his hives ( he has five ) swarmed. This means that the bees got a little crowded, created new queens and then the original queen (or often young queens) along with a swarm of bees flew off. My luck was that they did not go very far.
This swarm flew out of the hive, and made their new home under the same hive.
Art, Rachel and I had gone through the process of selecting the three frames for the nucleus colony before we investigated the swarm. We were astonished at how large and well developed it was!
It had roughly ten full, natural combs, so was the perfect "bee starter kit" for me. the swarm was attached to the bottom board of his hive, and that fit perfectly into my deep hive box for the trip home.
Also fortuitiously, I had bought foundationless frames and had watched youtube U videos on how swarm catchers manage wild hives....
I brought the swarm home, and this photo shown is after I had already re-constituted three of the ten combs into frames:
The remaining 70% of the swarm was still on the wild comb on the left in this picture and the new hive is on the right with the three frames. This is how I re-packaged each natural comb into a frame:
Within a very short period, the bees will fully attach the comb to the frame. Art tells me that the bees will also pull out the elastic bands when they are done with them.
When I was finished, the combs filled a ten frame deep brood box quite well. You can see the pattern on the bottom board (left) that the natural comb had taken:
Here is the hive in it's new home three days later. I fed it for the first three days to give it a boost as all of it's foraging worker bees were left behind. The top hive body is called a super with foundationless frames (typically for honey) just in case they need expansion room as it was a full swarm to start with.
So, as a first time beekeeper, I managed to get the swarm's wild comb hive home, re-packaged and into it's new hive box and out into it's permanent location without being stung! Amazing.... Afterwards, I was mopping up some honey in my garage, and I received a well earned sting....I was wondering when that would happen.
All in all, a great homecomming for my new bees and a fantastic start to beekeeping thanks to my neighbor Art.
My grandfather "Pop" Harvey in the UK was a beekeeper, and I think he would be fairly proud!