Saturday, 28 May 2016

A Huge Swarm

Hello All
Still busy here, but making progress with all the tasks that have built up. But as usual the best laid plans of mice and men etc...
Just about to attack the nettles around the outside of  the field when we recognised that familiar sight and sound of a swarm.
And it was HUGE!!!
Normally if it lands in a tree (which it usually does) David will climb a ladder up to the swarm and will knock it into a box, which I will hold underneath. He will cover the box with a cloth and I will hold onto it until David comes down the ladder and takes it off me. We then place it close to where they landed and leave it there for a few hours, giving all the bees that are flying time to join those in the box. HOWEVER..
There was no way that we could physically do this as the swarm was on a large branch of our old apple tree. It wrapped half way round the trunk as well as along the branch. The bees would have to be swept into the box and would weigh more than I or David could manage above our heads . Here it is...


So how to capture this valuable swarm? In good smallholding ( but NOT Health and Safety) practice, we used.. PALLETS!!
The photo shows David placing the box on the top pallet. He pushed it back closer to the trunk and directly under the middle of the swarm. David then stood on the ladders while I steadied him and, using a soft brush, he swept the bees into the box. It took several sweeps to get the majority in and be sure that he had the queen. When it was clear that she was in there, he partially covered the box and we left it for several hours. ....Until we got back from the quiz night at midnight. We then carefully bought the box down and carrying it between us we sited it at the bottom of the garden.
We are very pl;eased to have secured these bees, which is the largest swarm we have collected in over 40 years of beekeeping.

 I know that I have have been tardy posting recently. The gardens, Civic Society and various projects have been taking up so much of my time.
We are also now on countdown to our annual "Festival", the large family party that we host in our field each year. I have posted about it before, but if you are new to my blog it is a weekend when our daughters's and our friends join us for a two (for some, three) day party, when many camp (hence Festival) and we have games and races and friends and relatives who sing and play for us. We play rounders, dance, swim in our river and play huge games of rounders (50 a side). All very sophisticated, cocktail party it is not!
Making a smallholding a safe place for 150 people is quite a task, thus much of my time (when I'm not baking and freezing stuff) is being spent tidying up around the place. Our smallholding is nowhere near as tidy as some that I see in Blogland, so there is much to do.
  I have my youngest daughter's old black lab to look after for the weekend, while she and her daughter are walking the Yorkshire three peak challenge to raise money for "Labradors in Need" They have taken Coda, the young yellow lab with them, but Sammie isn't up to the walk.

All for now fellow bloggers, back as soon as I can. I may not be posting much, but I am reading your blogs. Before I close I must welcome Julie, Carol Flood and Jane Berry on Bloglovin . I seem to have lost a follower or two on the side bar, but can't work out who.
I'll close with a pic of Dixie, the bold explorer, skulking around on the bund in our neighbour's field.

Love Gillx

19 comments:

  1. Good to hear you are keeping busy or should that be buzzzzzzzzy!

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    1. Had to be said didn't it?
      Glad to hear that things are going well for you at the moment.

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  2. You are brave, I'd be terrified.

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    1. Not brave at all. We wear bee suits and the bees are placid when they swarm.

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  3. Gosh; well done with those bees. Don't worry about losing followers, I think Mr Blogger removes people who've been inactive for a while.

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    1. Yes we were pleased to get them.
      I used to understand who was following and who wasn't but not nowadays and as for Bloglovin I have no idea!

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  4. Bumper honey harvest then?
    Think I'll have to pop in and buy some honey on my next trip to Derbyshire, if you have some?! Except I don't know exactly where you are!
    Keep busy, it keeps you young and fit.......or so I'm told!

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    1. I think the harvest should be good this year, fingers crossed.
      If you email me on frugalinderbyshire@gmail.com and let me know when you are up this way, we can arranged to meet.

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  5. Wow , I think you are brave i would have run a mile lol xx

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    1. Not at all brave. it's more of a tactical problem than one of bravery.

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  6. Glad to see you back in action, you seem to have bagged a mighty swarm there!

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    1. Thanks. It certainly is. biggest ever for us.

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  7. I shall send a note about your post to my friend who is a beekeeper - she will be so interested in how you managed it.
    Your family festival sounds a splendid occasion - hope the weather improves for it.

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    1. It is not a recommended method, but worked for us.
      The long range weather is looking good. We still hold it even if it rains and everybody comes in wellies. The only problem being the mess it makes of the field.

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  8. I love the sound of your festival, what a great idea! Well done with the bees, that swarm is huge!

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    1. Shall be posting pics I'm sure! We are so pleased to have bagged that swarm.

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  9. Bees - totally fascinating! My DW badly wants to keep a hive.

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