Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our Bees 11.23.10

Our friends, Debbie & George gave us a call yesterday afternoon and asked if we were interested in a small swarm of Honey Bees that was in their tangerine tree.


It’s not much bigger than a large softball.


The Queen is in the middle of the mass somewhere. They protect her like this until they find a new home.


But what is really unusual is…..they do not sting when swarming. Hard to believe…but it is true. 

Debbie picked me up with her small pickup. We had the hive in the back and moved as close to the swarm as possible. She then gave me a small plastic bin….and a soft bristled brush. I swept the bees into the bin.


then gently dumped them into the hive. They stayed in a big clump and I brushed the stragglers in with them. Notice that I not wearing any beekeeping gear….no gloves or hood.


It was an hour or more before sundown and there would be “scouts” returning to the tree limb so Debbie made a pot of coffee and she, Jim and I relaxed and waited for them to come back. Every 15 minutes or so..we would check the limb….060cs

There would be several there and we’d sweep them into a bag and carry them to the hive.

Once it started to get dark, they all went down into the hive. Debbie had put some honey into the bottom for them to eat.

It’s hard to believe…but we were picking up stragglers that were in the bed of the truck, with our bare hands and putting them gently into the hive. No one got stung….not even once.

The dark section is the “super”…it will be filled with frames like the main hive and will be where they store the honey. The Queen  will remain in the lower portion and lay eggs. For now …it provides a place to put the sugar/water mixture that we will be feeding them.

Debbie drove me home . I rode in the back to steady the hive. When we got home,  Jim and I put the  hive on it’s stand in the back yard…then I prepared a 50/50 mixture of sugar and water in a jar with 3 holes in the top…..they had settled down by the time it was cool. We removed the top….set the inverted jar on a couple of flat sticks so the bees could get under it ….and left them alone the rest of the night.

We’d been in the house about 15 minutes when Jim said “I have a bee on me”….sure enough, a lonely little honey bee was walking down his arm and into his hand. He handed it to me and I carried it “home”.

It was so much fun working with “friendly” bees. It was a chance of a lifetime. The swarm was small enough for us to handle…….low enough in the tree for me to reach……and I may never get to work with a “friendly swarm” again. It was AWSOME!!!     Thanks Debbie & George.

We will have to continue to feed them the sugar/water mixture since they have no h0ney stored for the winter. We do have flowers and they will be  able to work those.  

There is still some work to do….I need to grease the legs of the stand so ants and other insects cant get to the hive. Jim will eventually make something so we can sit the legs in oil for a more permanent fix. Then we have to be on the watch for wax moths…they can kill a hive.

I am so excited….the hive is situated so I can watch them in the early morning sunshine.  They were still here this morning…I hope they like their new home.

I will have all the proper equipment on the next time I work with them. If they stay…..they will have a hive to defend…….and I will be an intruder.

I still can’t believe we had so much fun with BEES!!!!


  1. What an awesome experience! I've been around honey bees and they seem so gentle.

  2. That is amazing. I would never have imagined that they would be so gentle when swarming. I would have guessed they would be more agitated, in that state. It's great that you knew what to do, and prepared a home for them. I hope to hear lots more as the story unfolds.

  3. Fascinating,but I think I would have still insisted on some protection,just in case.

  4. That is amazing Carol. I never knew bees didn't sting whilst swarming like that. Great that you could find them a more permanent home too.
    Fantastic experience.

  5. You are much braver then I am. I was attacked by a swarm many years ago in S.Africa. I was in such a mess I could not go out for at least a fortnight. Since then I have been allergic to bees and one sting means immediate treatment!! Diane

  6. Facinating. Always interested in reading about bee keeping. ATB!

  7. Fabulous and facinating post. Thanks for sharing this experience Carol.

  8. Sounds like you have an interesting new project. I would not have been able to handle the bees, even in protective gear. I have been stung several times, mostly by yellow jackets, and each time I have a more severe reaction to the stings. Even knowing honey bees are less aggressive, I still keep my distance.

  9. What an interesting post, Carol. I learned so much and I'm looking forward to reading about the bees come spring.--Inger

  10. I have one bee colony and am going to buy a hive and hope for a swarm next spring. Your post gives me courage to catch a swarm. Thanks.


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