So we got a message at the weekend that a swarm had arrived and taken up residence in someone’s loft near Elgin. Bees had been there before and this swarm had discovered the old combs left behind by the previous owners. All perfectly accessible we were assured. I should have known at that point that it was not going to be a simple retrieval. But the chance of some free bees is a hard one to pass up.
Monday morning found me lying flat out on my front in full beesuit and veil in the dark (lit only by a torch) blinded by sweat, surrounded by bees and trying in vain to remove them from their combs into my lovely new polystryrene nuc box – the combs had been built into the darkest tightest corner of the eaves of the roof . To describe what it was like there as a scene from hell wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration! I brushed and scooped as many bees into the box as possible hoping that the queen would be among them and that all the rest would be keen to join her. I departed drenched in sweat and beesuit filthy to allow them to settle and remove them on Tuesday.
On Tuesday I returned to find the box containing only a couple of frames worth of bees and no queen. The rest of them were tucked out of reach on the remaining combs in the furthest reaches of the eaves. I had failed miserably!
I moved them back to the association apiary and to give them a chance of survival I gave them one of our queens from our queen rearing project. I went back again today but this time armed with three frames of brood and bees from my own colonies and gave them to the nuc.
All being well I’ve got the beginnings of another colony which I can build up for the winter and hopefully next summer get me some honey!
But next time someone mentions lofts and bees I think I’ll pass on the opportunity.