Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Bee update: collecting swarms and feeding

This week, in between all the rain showers, we found two swarms.  We have provided the world with several swarms but never actually seen any before let alone had to deal with them so this was a big excitement. I am sure you have noticed that it has rained every day for the last 10 days but prior to that the weather was warm and fine. Our bees, and therefore presumably everyone else's too, had been booming in the fine March weather and beginning to make queen cells.  With both of the swarms we found, they must have been waiting to emerge and then took their chance during the brief periods of sun between the showers.  In each case they were hanging on the outside of one of our hives...which of course made them rather easy to find.

For the first swarm we had a spare nuc box so they went straight into a serviceable temporary home. The other had so spent a few hours in a cardboard box until we could borrow another nuc box.

Handling them was very strange. We swept them into the box gently with a bee brush and it felt like moving a viscous liquid, like custard, rather than bees. Also, they were strangely still but that might have been the cold.

Having already taken two artificial swarms to stop our hives swarming, we were not really expecting - or stocked - for another two. But they are with us now so that means 6 colonies to which need support in building up the wax. Now we have received the email from the BBKA advising that the weather has been so bad for so long that the bees might starve. Luckily we were feeding anyway but will be more vigilant now.