Last Sunday I received a message just after 1 pm about a swarm at Hughenden manor on the fence of our apiary. It seemed impossible that it was NOT due to one of our colonies. Only the week before we’d got a swarm from Tetsworth, Oxfordshire which I think of as the jubilee hive – very appropriate. I’d not been at the previous week’s inspection but I knew we had quite busy hives – or perhaps the new swarm did not like its quarters?
This swarm was on the fence and quite sizeable. We couldn’t cut the fence so it was a slightly awkward catch – but we were sure it was not from our hives at Hughenden on the day and this was confirmed at Tuesday’s inspection – it just seemed such a coincidence that they were so close to our bees.
Yesterday, just after we’d finished lunch thankfully, a neighbour who knew I kept bees came to say there was a swarm in his garden. My immediate thought was that almost certainly the swarm I collected from Hughenden last week wanted to move on – they didn’t seem that settled and I’d felt on edge wondering whether they would stay. If it wasn’t them I deduced it would be hive 2. I went to my neighbour, made a plan of action – that I would return in about 40 minutes with various items so I could firstly try a bait hive (as the swarm was inaccessible for me).
I grabbed a couple of minutes to look at my hives. They were just the same as ever. A quick peak confirmed none of them was missing enough bees to form the swarm at my neighbour’s. It felt as though I was going to be over run with bees.
It does seem an amazing coincidence that on successive Sundays swarms landed close enough to apiaries I know to make me convinced they were from the nearby apiary yet in each case they were not.
Does this mean that once you have a couple of hives you are effectively a bee magnet to swarms? I think next week we’ll start having lunch earlier so at least we don’t have to collect swarms on an empty stomach. If we have fellow beekeepers who are looking for bees I wonder whether it would be a help if we allowed them to put a bait hive in our apiary. It is those without bees in the first place who seem to have least success with bait hives.
There is a postscript. At about 5 pm I looked up to my roof and saw a cloud of bees near the chimney which, until about 6 weeks ago had held some feral bees. I suspect my neighbour’s swarm had found a new home.