Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bee Swarm

Earlier this summer, Anouk ran in the house announcing that the bees were swarming.  Sure enough, when I checked the back yard, the air was filled with buzzing bees.  It's impossible to describe this experience, and when I tried to catch it on film, it simply looked like the sound and image was poor quality.  As we watched, the buzzing swarm slowly condensed into a thick cloud of bees, and they eventually began to cling to a post in our raspberry patch, covering it in a thick blanket of bees (referred to as a "beard.")
We brought out an empty super, then we moved the swarm into the box. We had only read about this process before, and it was surreal how docile the bees were.  We were literally scooping handfuls of bees, like they were liquid.  Mike cut the stalk they had gathered on and shook that into the box, then we put a feeder full of sugar water in the top box, put the lid on, and left them to settle in.  Bees are expensive, so we were thankful that we had an empty super on hand, because we now have a third hive, and it appears to be building comb very quickly.

We left the feeder on when we needed to leave town in June, and when we came home, they had built crazy comb to fill every inch of open space between the feeder and frames.  Here is a photo of a smaller crazy comb formation (from a different hive:)
Crazy comb is when the bees build free form Dr. Seuss-style structures to fill empty spaces in the hive.  We have learned to remove it so that the frames don't get welded together, making it impossible to tend the bees.  After removing that larger comb, I spent about an hour pressing the honey out, then melting the wax.  I decided to try using the microwave on thaw setting, and it worked perfectly.  Remaining honey sank to the bottom of the bowl, impurities were in the center, and the pure wax floated and hardened on top.  From just a bunch of excess comb, I have 12 ounces of honey and a big chunk of wax for use in soap and lotion-making! 

No comments:

Post a Comment