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Report of the December 2019 winter meeting

 

EDBK Winter Meeting, 5th December 2019

“Call that tricky?  I once had…. Swarms we have known”
(with apologies to Monty Python’s Flying Circus)

Who would have thought after all these years we would be in a village hall, sharing a cup of tea & talking about bees……
Alasdair: I remember when I was called to a huge swarm high up in a tree right next to a school gate. So there I was with my suit on but not protected by gloves or veil when the branch appeared in front of me – hauled down by an over-zealous council official!
Everybody was watching, so I calmly cut the end off the branch with my secateurs and held up the swarm like a trophy, to applause from the crowd.


Lovely big swarm. Pity the queen was a drone layer.

 

Ann: Well, I was at home, resting in my hammock, when I got a call from Devon Council to a swarm on Seaton seafront at fishermans gap. Huge swarm on the wall between two flower beds! I put the sheet on the ground next to the swarm and two little boys came and asked if they could help. So I asked them to stand at either end of the flower bed and warn passers by that there were live bees around. By this time I had an audience so quickly brushed the bulk of the swarm into the skep and turned it upside down onto the sheet. As if by magic the remaining bees walked DOWN the wall and into the skep. The queen must have been in there! After about 20 mins they were nearly all inside. Just had to brush up a few stragglers to complete the job.

Some grumpy old geezer said ‘Why did you put your bees there?’. Another nice person asked ‘How did you make them walk into the basket like that?’ ‘Easy’ I said. ‘I asked them to’. I don’t think he believed me, then the two little boys came up and said could they do the same next year when they came on holiday? ‘Of course.’ I said, then thanked them for their help and walked off with my swarm.

 

Peter: Mind you I had it tough. My swarm was in a postbox mounted in a wall, just 2′ from a main road. The most awkward place imaginable!
After a phone call the postman came round pretty quick with the key but didn’t hang around to see it openned up.
The swarm was ENORMOUSE. Took me days to scoop them all out into a poly nuc. In case you don’t know, these old postboxes have a huge cavity at the top. Big enough to get your arm up to the elbow!


When I came back that evening they had filled the poly nuc and were hanging out all over the front and side. So the first job was to get the bees on the outside into another box, then take them all back to the apiary and combine them in one hive.
The remaining bees were scooped up into a poly nuc. Given its size the swarm was probably an evicted colony looking for a new home.

 

Richard: I used to dream of easy swarms in a postbox. My swarm was a very grizzly experience!
Got a call from a man cutting trees down on the path beside the Grizzly Run near Seaton. Right mess it was too. Bees all over the place. Rotten bits of wood with chunks of comb littering the path. So I did a cut-and-paste job with combs, fastening them into empty frames with rubber bands, put the frames in a nuc and shovelled as many bees in as I could find.


Over night they decided my home was better than theirs and moved in!