My apprentice, Gill, and her hubby/carpenter/photographer, Steve placed a Seeley-type swarm trap on a tree a furlong or so from their apiary near a golf course in the Purbecks. Here’s a picture of it:Image

As you see, the bees hadn’t read the book properly and, although they found the box, built their comb under rather than in it!  Gill contacted me for help, offering cake as a bribe!  That was before Gormanston and other events so, in the meantime, they took the box from the tree and lowered it, complete with swarm on comb, into a brood box on a floor.

Eventually we were able to make a date to see to them.  Gill had brought along string, knife, frames and elastic bands and I showed her how to use them.


The trick with the string is to tie loose loops around the frame so they can be slid along when the comb is in place, tightening them by moving them to a final diagonal position.

I lifted the box with the comb from the brood box and placed it on its side for easy access. Of course, Murphy’s Law being what it is, some of them, the outer ones, broke off!


We were able to rescue them and frame them, discovering that the British Standard Band (Rubber, Postman for the Use of) was designed to fit National frames and not Commercial ones so we had a few breakages. First we put the two outer small pieces of comb that just had honey, together with a small piece with brood into one frame and added it to the box; also another small piece.


Then gently I cut off the larger brood combs, brushing off the bees from what would be the underside as I layed them, one at a time, on the hive roof to manoeuvre them into the frames.


We did all this without using smoke, in fact I haven’t lit a smoker since getting back from Gormanston, 3 weeks ago, although I’ve opened plenty of hives since then. How? Having a tidy up, I found an ancient sachet of ‘Liquid smoke’ in a drawer and decided to use it. You’ll see my ‘smoker’ by my right hand in the next picture:


I think I got just one sting during the whole process, having accidentally compressed a bee. Apart from that, they were perfectly gentle and well-behaved. Their calmness may have been assisted because, instead of just talking to them as most beekeepers do, I was singing to them! Here’s the last picture, showing how we shuffled the comb into the frames.


You can see the odd snapped elastic band. I think the string is gentler and doesn’t compress the comb as much. We used some of each.

Eventually the job was complete and we went back to Steve and Gill’s home at Piddletrenthide for a cuppa and I was able to receive my bribe of a splendid fruit cake as well as a bonus of some duck eggs from Gill’s Indian Runners.  I would post a picture of the cake, but it’s mostly eaten!


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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  1. Randy says:

    Always something interesting going on in the bee yard. Thanks for sharing! I recently learned about using these hair clips to hang comb with. You loosely hand them with zip ties and clamp onto the comb and pull the zip ties up tight. I replaced one damaged comb thus far that was about 1/3 a frame of comb, was so easy. Banding them in on the bottom lots fall over on me making a mess, in fact this recent repair was from just that.

  2. Margaret Johnson says:

    What a fantastic series of photos. Thanks for that its brilliant.

    • jimmy diskin galway now 78 says:

      I see Margaret still likes the early morning of course its the best part of the day nice blog Chris ienjoyed it too.

  3. Pingback: Two new colonies for Kitty-N-Bee Wallace Family Apiary « Wallace Family Apiary

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