|Posted on 28 June, 2015 at 17:20|
Ray keeps bees on our smallholding. He loves his bees and spends lots of time making sure they're fit, healthy and buzzing. I'm not a beekeeper, but I give a hand when needed and play my part by growing the flowers they love and eating the honey they produce.
At this time of year bees are happily collecting nectar and pollen making honey and new bees. As part of their natural cycle they reproduce and swarm to divide the hive and create a new colony. When this happens it's ideal if the swarm can be caught and then it can be put into a hive rather than going off into the wild.
Ray was away with work this week and, yes you've guessed it, the bees swarmed. I was in the flower field and thought I could hear a lot of buzzing, dismissed it, then thought I should check. This is what I saw
Thankfully this time the swarm was in a place that was easily accessible so off I went to get suited up. I put on the white beekeeping outfit, checked carefully that there were no holes or gaps, lit the smoker and collected the skep that Ray had been saving for just this occasion. He bought a locally made straw skep in a bee auction a few months ago and was very proud of it! I put the skep on the tree above the swarm and spoke nicely to the bees. They didn't take much notice so I started to gently smoke the bottom of the swarm to encourage them to move up into the skep.
Either the smoking or taking to the bees began to work and they started to move upwards into the skep. I strapped the skep to the tree just in case of stronger winds (or Larry the sheep who was very interested in the whole business). When they're swarming bees are generally fairly calm and concentrate on their own business rather that worrying about people so I pottered on for a while longer then left them at this stage
An hour later and they'd all moved up into the skep ready for Ray to pop them into a hive when he came home.
Job done!! And very pleasing too