Home is the bee, home from the tree
After spending four cold nights swinging from a Douglas-fir, my errant charges have returned. Watching them reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Requiem:
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
These are the bees I told you about earlier in the week, the ones that swarmed just as I began to make a split. I already had four swarm traps freshly baited from the previous weekend, but when I saw this swarm, I quickly set up four bait hives around my yard and sprayed them with the Swarm Commander I recently purchased. After that, nothing to do but wait.
I thought the four flower pot-shaped traps were my best bet. They were in previously successful locations and they had brand new swarm lures from Mann Lake. I almost always catch something in those traps, so I thought they had the best potential. But I really didn’t want to lose this swarm, so I sprayed the four empty hives with the little spray bottle of Swarm Commander reminiscent of a perfume dispenser. It definitely has that “come hither” scent.
During the ensuing days, the Swarm Commander-laced hives drew all the attention. Those four hives each had thirty or forty scouts constantly, while the flower pots had only three or four.
Today as I was working at the kitchen sink, water running, I suddenly froze. “What’s that noise?” I demanded. I turned off the water, listened, and once again asked the dog, “What’s that noise?” He doesn’t like bees so he didn’t answer.
To me, it sounded like a small aircraft was about to land on the roof. I grabbed my camera and ran barefoot through the grass.
What can you say about a swarm? Enchanting? Mesmerizing? Intoxicating? Or maybe the coolest freaking thing you will ever see? I will never tire of watching them.
The cloud of bees had more or less coalesced over the kiwi vine. This confused me because there is a bait hive both to the east and west of that vine, about equidistant. So for a few moments, I didn’t know where the swarm was going.
But it soon become obvious—bees began condensing on the surface of the hive like shower steam on a mirror. The swarm was bigger than I estimated, so I walked into the center, added a brood box, and removed the entrance reducer so they would have an easier time marching in. Bees bumped into my face, landed in my hair, and examined my camera but like most swarms, they were totally docile. It took a long time, but they finally settled in.
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