Friday, 24 July 2009

The swarm revisited

This morning was lovely and sunny so Max and I went out and dealt with the swarm I had collected with Ralph on Wednesday evening. By dealt with I simply mean fix the comb they had made in the box onto a frame.

Unfortunately (sic) in the wild bees don't make their comb in frame size pieces; it tends to be sort of oval shaped with curved edges. So attaching it to a frame is rather like trying to put a jigsaw together with pieces from different puzzles. In the past I've leant the comb against the central wires and then tied string around it (other people use elastic bands but I never have any big enough). This works up to a point but any rough handling means the loose pieces of comb just drop down.

I read on the BBKA Forum about someone's father who used to use chicken wire. We have plenty of odd bits so I decided to give it a go. Using a wired up frame Max fixed a piece of chicken wire to one side and so created a sort of envelope.

You can just see in this rather bad photo the central wires underneath the chicken wire.

Up at the hive we then slipped the comb in between the two sets of wire, pressing gently so that some of the wax would be attached to the chicken wire. We closed the envelope with three pieces of string - not easy tying knots in rubber gloves!

You can see very clearly in the brood in this "wild" comb. I don't know if we were quick enough to save it - the bees cover the brood to keep it at the correct temperature - but failing all else they will rearrange this frame as they want, filling in the holes with more wax. There is one potential problem: will the bees be able to leave a gap between this frame and the neighbouring ones or will they become stuck together? Time will tell and I am quite certain the bees will work out what's best.

In the meantime the swarm was happily sitting on the three frames I'd put in the box on Wednesday evening. We didn't take these out to check but I hope very much the queen is doing her bit and laying lots of eggs! The photo below is looking down into the hive. Not a huge swarm but satisfactory nonetheless!

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