After the swarm settled in the trap, we decided to leave it until morning. We had other things to do before dark, and I needed to prepare a hive for the new colony. Still, we decided to walk up the hill and look at the other traps. I was certain they were empty; they were always empty.
We saw no sign of life at the second trap, but the third one had a few bees at the entrance. Not a lot, just one now and then. At first I assumed they were scouts, but scouts go in and out, hover around, inspect the outside. These bees behaved more like bees returning at the end of the day—they went in but not out. They did not hover around the entrance.
Once again, we decided it was too late in the day to do anything. We would haul the ladder to this trap in the morning after we hived the swarm from the other trap. It seemed like a lot of work for nothing, but that was the plan. In the morning I would prepare two new hives, just in case.
Hiving of yesterday’s swarm was easy. My husband carried the trap down the ladder, passed it to me, and I banged the bees into their new hive. A little bit of snow white comb—already filled with nectar—clung to the inside of the pot. I saw no queen, although I didn’t expect to. Everything seemed normal, although quite a few foragers returned to the alder tree.
With that out of the way, we proceeded to the most distant trap. Up on the ladder, I saw no sign of life, nor did I hear any. But I was amazed at the weight of the trap—I decided it must be waterlogged.
We carried it down to the new hive, just in case. With the trap braced over the open hive, I opened it. I suppose my silence was telling because my husband kept saying, “What is it? What’s in there?”
“A fully functioning colony,” I answered at length. I couldn’t look away; it was gorgeous.
Five sparkling white and perfectly parallel combs nearly filled the trap, and a sixth comb was in progress. But what puzzled me most was that no bees flew up or out; no bees came or went. They just kept working on their combs. I was mesmerized.
My husband needs to avoid bee stings, but even he stood within inches of these bees with no protective clothing. I’ve never seen bees so remarkably gentle and unconcerned with human intervention—they just kept working their combs as if we weren’t standing there, as if we hadn’t just ripped open their home.
I almost hate to tell you this because it is so counter to good beekeeping practices, but I couldn’t cut them out. Maybe if they were mean I would have, but these bees were so peaceful and their combs so delicate. The new white wax would collapse if I cut it, and the artistic symmetry would be destroyed.
So in a very unbeekeeperlike manner, I placed the trap on top of the hive, added some empty supers to enclose it, and placed a lid on top of that. What I’m going to do next, I have no clue. Eventually I will have to do something, but not yet.
It occurs to me that I have let peace and beauty overwhelm any good sense I might have. But can that be all bad? I will probably end up with a horrendous mess on my hands, but for the moment, those bees make me over-the-top happy.