Yesterday I took my would-be beekeeper daughter in law, Ally, to play with some bees. The first lot we looked at were a bit worrisome as they were no stronger than in February and had no sealed stores. However the queen looked plump and happy, the brood looked healthy and they had plenty of nectar and pollen was coming in, so they’ll be left to their own devices to build up.
The next hive on a different site was completely different. There were 2 full supers of honey with not a rape field in sight. There was brood on 10 combs and queen cells on several, one of which was sealed. We didn’t see the queen but saw eggs and the hive was so crowded that they couldn’t have swarmed already.
I went back again today and met there a lady, Janie, who is in need of a swarm to stock a Warre hive. We got there at 10.30, knowing that swarms usually issue later in the day than that (but also that bees do nothing invariably). We used the Taranov method, the board being rescued from a scrap heap to which I had fixed with duct tape a strip of carpet to go under the upper edge to provide a grip for the bees. Unfortunately it came adrift in use so obviously I hadn’t used enough tape.
We laid down a car rug on the grass in front of the hive then set up the board resting on a super + a block of wood so that the top edge was level with and about a hand from the hive entrance.
Then it was a case of opening the hive, going through frame by frame and shaking the bees onto the board whence they made their way upwards and either jumped the gap to get back home or scuttled beneath the board to form a clump. Janie was smoke monitor. Frames with queen cells were brushed rather than shaken.
Janie had set up her Warre hive next to the National we were working with. When all frames had been skaken/brushed and we had paused to draw breath we looked under the board. There seemed to be 3 clumps; two near the front, probably being caused by the carpet strip being dislodged and a third a little way down the board where the bees had chosen to go sideways rather than upwards.
Problem: the clumps together were larger than the area of the open top of the Warre. We took the lifts from a couple of nearby CDB hives and leant them against the Warre so as to make a funnel. It worked and we were able to shake and brush the goodly sized clumps into to Warre. Ooops! Janie had forgotten to block the entrance and they started coming out, but that was soon remedied.
All that remained was to rebuild the hive and cover and remove the Warre with its bees. Job done! Good fun!