Build it, and they will come
Early this spring I set up three swarm traps and two bait hives. After thinking awhile, I decided one of the bait hives was too close to the propane tank. The delivery person was already leery of the top-bar hive, and that was ten times further away. If perchance he got annoyed and decided not to deliver, my husband would get annoyed the first time he took a cold shower, and I would get annoyed when he blamed me. Remember that saying about certain things flowing downhill?
So three weeks ago, I started parting it out. I took the swarm lure and installed it elsewhere. I stole half of the two-piece bottom board for one hive, the slatted rack and screened inner cover for another, and borrowed five of the frames for yet a third. Nothing remained but a shell: a partial deep on half a bottom board with a lid.
On Wednesday evening, I was miffed at the propane company. Normally I get a discount if my bill is paid within ten days, but apparently they didn’t receive my last e-check until eleven days. So they sent an invoice—stamp, envelope, paper, ink, and somebody’s time—for four cents per month interest for each of the past two months. Someone must think this a viable business model. What—ever.
I also noticed bees poking around what was left of the bait hive. Robbers, I decided, because one of the remaining frames had a bit of honey in it. I peered inside to see a dozen bees lapping up the sweet stuff. I left them to it.
Returning from town the next afternoon, I noticed even more robbers circling, diving, careening. Normally, I would have ignored it, but a bunch of crazy bees coupled with an eight-cent debt was problematic: before long, someone would demand jail time. It was time to dismantle the bait hive.
As I approached the hive to haul it away, something on the landing board caught my attention: drones. This band of robbers included drones? Then it occurred to me . . .
I tore off the lid. This time a cajillion bees covered the five frames; in fact, I could barely see the frames. I began flipping through them until I found what I was looking for. Yes! I knew it! This band of “robbers” also had a queen.
Not only a queen, but an Italian queen. That in itself is unremarkable except for the fact I haven’t had one around here for years and years—proof that this new swarm wasn’t from my own apiary. How cool is that?
So now I have a thriving hive within spitting distance of the propane tank. What to do? I put a check in an envelope, added a forty-nine-cent stamp, and drove three miles to the post office—all very cost effective, of course. The rest I’ll figure out tomorrow.