The past few weeks has been extraordinary with bees swarming. I am noticing that bees tend to swarm around lunch time, in heavy hot weather, preceding a storm. It didn’t appear to be any of my current colonies swarming, but new bees arriving and unusually settling not on a branch of a tree. These bees are settling in the grass.
Last month I had a call out to a swarm on a driveway. The photograph looked a bit sad with a pile of bees looking a bit lifeless on a gravel driveway. I wasn’t able to visit until the next day so I told the caller to place a box over the bees to protect them. I arrived early the following morning to find three cardboard boxes upturned across the driveway.
I realised then that I’d forgotten to mention placing a table cloth UNDER each box.
Usually, a collected swarm will cluster in a top corner of a box, or straw skep (the usual collecting vessel for swarms of bees). I found that these bees were clustered, some in the box, but also still huddled on the ground. Coaxing the bees into the boxes, edging newspaper and tablecloths under the boxes attempting not to leave behind a single bee took around an hour. I then took each box to a different hive and watched them walk in.
Sadly each swarm left their hives over the coming weeks.
On the Saturday there were two swarms within a mile of each other. One flew straight into a bait hive, the other clustered low in long grass.
Shaking into a hive
They were collected up successfully into a straw skep, and shaken into an empty hive. Two days later we found only a few in the hive. Thinking that they’d taken flight and gone elsewhere, I spotted a huge cluster behind the hive, in the long grass. Maybe the queen fell into the grass?
Covering in a skep and making cardboard walkways up into the hive, we left them to choose the hive, and again two days later, three clusters, one in the hive, one high up in the skep, and a third pile on the grass.
Can anyone enlighten me as to what is going on?
Could there be a reason for clustering in the grass? Over the past year I have had three other swarms collected from piles in long grass, and each of them refused to settle in a new hive, or even survive.
I am hoping that this swarm will teach me how we can help them.