I could easily title this "How I went out to do something with the bees
that ought to have taken 2 minutes and ended up taking an hour and a
half instead" and I''m sure you'd all understand. I've marked each of
the places where I think I made a mistake with a [*M*] and would like it
if anyone on this list could give me some feedback about how I might
have made better choices. I surely appreciate and thank each of you for
Because I have a new wild swarm that's starting from scratch in a
hardison hive, to give them a headstart I decided to follow advice I got
here and supplement their empty bars with some brood comb from my
established hive. [Mark, the now established hive had 7 combs, each
about a yard long, when I moved them out of the wall.]
I went out yesterday to take a few bars of brood out of the wild hive
I've had for a month that is in a hardison hive. Aside from checking on
these bees from the back end to see how much room they had and dropping
a chunk of their own honey in there, I hadn't bothered them at all since
we got them so they weren't used to me fiddling around with them. [*M*]
Yesterday I finally opened the old hive up and one by one lifted each
bar to see where they were at. They were busy busy busy on every comb.
From the middle I took one brood comb out (noting it had 3 queen cells
on it) and I have to say, that just totally ticked them off. There was
so much activity each time I lifted a bar out, I had a hard time
slipping it back in because every bee on the adjoining bar wanted to
come up and see why light was coming in.
Instead of moving each bar singly, I sometimes skipped ahead [*M*] to
let one bar calm down but this only meant that at one point I had space
between the bars in about five different places which I later realized
wasn't much different than how langstroth hives work and was probably
defeating my intention of being as unintrusive as possible.
I put the brood comb into the new hive that sits a foot away [*M*] from
the older hive.
This morning I removed a bar from the back of the new hive and saw that
they were all clustered in the back upper corner and hadn't spread out
yet. I also noticed a handful of the old hive's bees in there taking
care of their brood or at least walking around on it like they owned it.
I shooshed the old bees out and put a small chunk of honey [*M*] in the
back under the new bees where they were clustered, then closed the front
door with a piece of screen so it was only beehole opening wide and
easier to protect.
I decided to move the new bees to another place in the yard away from
the old bees and thought it smart to do this before they all woke up. I
went down below our sequoia tree that's inside the two acre free range
chicken yard and setup a new base to move the hive onto.
Standing next to the old hive, I opened the roof on the new hive. The
old bees apparently remembered me moving all their furniture yesterday
and a bunch of them immediately buzzed me even though I wasn't in their
hive. I've never had an aggressive hive but my husband reminded me that
I've also never taken brood away from a hive before. Is it a stretch to
think they knew this and were upset?
Anyway they were not pleased. As is pretty normal for me, I didn't have
hat or gloves on so I spent a lot of time walking away and coming back
until I finally got one tangled in my hair and got stung. Closing the
barn door after the horse got out, I put my hat and gloves on and came back.
Inside the new hive by now the chunk of honey had roused the swarm and
they were all over it eating and some of them had spread out onto the
brood comb exploring it. Or that's my guess anyway because now that the
swarm cluster was awake, I couldn't tell if the bees on the brood were
the new bees or were the old bees who'd made the comb and were certain
it smelled like theirs. [*M*]
So I shooshed a few more bees out of the hive, closed it back up, then
my husband helped me walk it down to the new site. My intention was to
find the new bees a quiet place to get settled in without attracting the
attention of the old bees. By now of course I couldn't tell which bees
were which and may well have carried a few old bees down to the new site
and which defeats my intention.
To distract the old bees and also to make amends, I put some comb on top
of a bin about 10 feet away [*M*] and hoped that they were so ga-ga over
the honey nearby that they don't go looking for the new hive's home
that's about 200' away with trees and bushes in between.
Another [*M*] is that when I dumped the swarm from a bucket into the
back of the hive, I didn't block it off partway ahead of time. Somehow I
imagined that they'd all move to the middle near the comb without
thinking it through and realizing that they'd prefer a back corner to
When I realized they wanted to be at the back, little by little I moved
the back piece up about 10 bars' lengths. Now they have about 15 bars of
space now which I can already tell is way too big. I was so concerned
about skushing bees as I pushed them forward (which is nearly
unavoidable) that I only went that far and stopped. [*M*]
So now they are all settled in and I'm hoping they stay.
I put a completely different swarm in another box a few days ago and
sprayed them with honey water and then gave them a honeycomb chunk to
settle them down but the next morning they left anyway. Not far though.
They swarmed up over the top of our house and went into an old bee hole
near our chimney on the north side of the farmhouse, a place this house
has had bees in for about 80 years so I don't mind. I won't be nosing
around in there until we replace the roof this summer.
Q: Should I be putting all my bees in one area? I initially did that
because eventually we want put a roof over them to protect them better
from rain, but if it's better for bees that are just starting out to be
farther away from established hives, I can easily do that. We have ten
Q: Once I dump a swarm into a TBH, is there anything else I ought to do?
Thanks very much for your help.
Friendly Haven Rise Farm