Today I got a call from Reuben after the normal inspection saying that the nucleus looked like it was swarming. Generally things looks very busy at the front of the hive, with a cluster of bees not at the entrance, but above it, near the top of the hive. When they start to swarm, they take the queen with them and fly to somewhere nearby to rest whilst scouts fly off and look for suitable new homes, they direct the bees using the classic waggle dance, so if you see bees dancing on the surface of the swarm you know that you haven’t got long before they start heading off.
Anyway, Reuben hangs around for a while but heads off once it looks like they’ve calmed down a bit. When I drop down to the hives an hour or so after and the front of the hive looks quite busy, with bees all over the front. Looking around the garden, I try to follow the bees leaving the front of the nucleus to see where the swarm is resting to no avail. But then as I walk back towards the hive I see a lovely little bundle of bees hanging from a branch directly above the hives – about 3 meters up!
After much messing around, I was joined by Doug. If you hold a container below the swarm and hit them into said container (which is close enough so that they bees drop into the box without giving them enough distance to start flying), you get a box full of bees. So long as the queen is in the box, the rest of the bees that are in the tree will go into the box. So I stood on a makeshift platform holding our delivery nucleus on the end of a pair of shears underneath the swarm whilst Doug knocked the swarm into the box. Hurrah.
we then transferred the bees into the top bar hive, strapped a couple of drawn out (a full frame of wax) super frames onto the top bar. By then it was 6pm and getting a bit chilly so we decided to leave them there.