After checking my gopher traps this morning I needed to fetch some plastic bags; I managed to trap 3 gophers in a rare trifecta. On the way back to the house I decided to take a quick look at the bee hives to see how they were doing. We’ve been a little worried one of them was about to swarm. As I moved around the hives I keep looking directly at them. There seemed to be a lot of activity of bees in the air, but the hives seemed otherwise normal.
As I moved around a pear tree that is just 10′ from the hives I suddenly noticed a lot of bees in the air. That’s when I looked up and in front of myself to see a huge swarm ball of honey bees bivouaced just a couple of feet from my face. Needless to say I stepped back rather abruptly. After taking a few photos I rushed back to the house and called our bee keeping mentor, Ken. He dropped everything and rushed over to give me a hand.
Ken helped me break into the hive I suspected these bees belonged to. The good news was the population in that hive looked great. So this is most likely a stray colony that decided to pay us a visit. So we grabbed a brood frame from the hive and placed it in a nuc box we had laying around. Once we sealed the hive back up we proceeded over to the tree and placed the box on the ground below the bee ball.
Ken took the brood frame and placed it under the bee ball. Slowly the bees started moving down onto the frame. It was like he was painting the frame with live bees; simply amazing to watch. Once we had enough bees on the frame we placed it in the box below. Ken grabbed hold of the limb above the bees as I cut it off the tree with a set of loppers. A bunch of the bees fell directly onto the ground so Ken scooted the box a little closer to them. I trimmed excess branches from the ball and Ken placed it over the opening of the box. Slowly the bee ball melted into the box as the bees moved down on the the brood frame.
About that time, Eric and Janet (who have been waiting for a swarm alert) arrived. They were very excited to get these bees for their new hive in Portland. We transferred the brood frame to their hive boxes and are waiting for the bees to calm down. They will be taking them to their new home in Portland later this evening.
When I woke up this morning I didn’t expect anything like this.