"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Wild Hive

Last evening I was minding my own business, on my way out back to bring the horses in. As I glanced at the bee hive in passing, something caught my eye.

Can you see what it was?

It was a MASSIVE swarm of bees hanging from a branch of a Pear tree!
I couldn't believe it - seriously!

I called our beekeeper because at first, I was concerned it was her hive and something was wrong.
My husband insisted there was no way - that there were way too many bees there and that it had to be a whole different hive. And then he kept yelling at me to stand back. *sigh* For those of you who know him, you know what I mean! 

My beekeeper was pretty sure it was a wild swarm - I used that term loosely because I know there are more technical definitions in the beekeeping world, but I am not up to speed there - and she said she'd be right out as she wanted to try and catch it and put it into a hive. Yesterday was a warm day, reaching about 80 degrees, but it was supposed to get cold at night and she said they wouldn't have a chance once the cold came in.

Fascinating. The more I learn about honeybees, the more interesting it all is. 
They truly are very docile, unless you piss them off!

My beekeeper arrived and first checked her hive just to be sure it wasn't them. Yep, she was sure. Her hive was PACKED! And they were all PISSED. I guess they don't like to be bothers when dusk rolls around and you could even hear the 'tone' of their buzzing was different that if you were just observing them while there were minding their business!

Once she got her hive all put back together, you could see them all over the front of the hive trying to get back inside. I stood WAY far back to get a picture with my camera at 100% zoom! But of course, a few angry bees spotted me and the next thing I know, I was running like a lunatic through the orchard, flinging my head like a violent teenager at a 90's grunge band concert, trying to get pissed off honeybees out of my hair. 

Well, for those who know my husband, he was none to happy about this after he repeatedly told me to 'Stay Back Allison!'. Ha! I laugh at this, but he sure was not! So there I was, banging my head into thin air, trying to rip my ponytail out, while my husband 'attempted' to help!

And so, there went the rest of my photo opps! I didn't get a chance to take any of the beekeeper taking the new hive. It did take her a good while. She also 'smoked' her angry hive to try and calm them down. In the end, she did get all but about 50-100 of the wild swarm. She said she didn't see the queen, but when she got home, she was going to try and look as she placed them into a real hive. 

Basically, she has a soft bristle brush and she gently brushed them off the tree and into a box. She said, ideally, you would just cut the whole branch off and it'd be a lot easier, but clearly we couldn't do that since it was one of our orchard trees!


Susan said...

I was holding my breath through your entire story imagining trying to get bees out of your hair! Good thing the wonderful honey is worth all of this! XOXO

Clint Baker said...

To me that was always the fun thing about bee keeping with dad and that was collecting a swarm!

Vanessa said...

That's so cool! I am so glad you posted that honeybees really are docile unless you piss them off because it is the truth but so many people are scared. My husband really wants to learn how to catch swarms, I am content with the one hive we have. I don't know if you are aware of this but OSU has a large bee garden/observation site/lab up in Wooster and one of the best bee school's is held up there every spring. Beekeeping is a lot of fun and very interesting!

The Starved Idiot said...

I have bees and I generally wear a baseball cap with my hair tucked back. In Maine, most of the hardware stores sell net jackets with zip full face hoods or net hoods only. These are to keep our notorious black flies from sucking us dry but they work great for bees. Pretty inexpensive too. One other tip - bees are attracted to bright colors and floral scents. I generally wear white or gray long sleeve T shirts and make sure I use unscented soaps/shampoo on bee hive days.

swarms are really cool aren't they!

Mary said...

Oh my GOSH, that is a LOT of bees. I would have been terrified! I'm glad it worked out in the end. I could never be a beekeeper!!