24 Nov 2011

Swarm capture and hive conversion

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Comb made by a 2 week old colony (from a swarm issued by my first hive). I captured the swarm in my garden, and contained it in a temporary capture hive with three frames (Andrew's system).

Since the weather turned bad (cold and rain) for 4 days, I could not transfer them to a Langstroth hive for 3-4 days. When I tried, I lifted the roof off the capture box to find the bees had started building 'wild' comb from the roof, rather than using the three, fully foundationed frames! (BTW - a setup I no longer use . . . ) I returned the lid and retreated for plan B.

I then waited until my Kenyan hive was ready for use and transferred them and the comb into that hive, which took some modified top bars to hold in the comb until the bees fastened it. This colony in the capture box was by then 2 weeks old and had four significant combs, one of which did actually use the frame (since they ran out of empty roof space).

During the transfer, I had to bring this frame (pictured) into the house to remove the wires, then cut the comb to fit the Kenyan top bars. You can see its full of shiny honey (not yet capped) and pollen (below the honey).

There is some damage here, as I manhandled the frame in a frenzy of bees. They were actualy VERY tolerant and did not try to sting as I ripped their hive apart. As a bee friendly beekeeper, I'd rather not be doing this type of thing to the bees, but sometimes you just get backed into a corner by circumstances - or perhaps my lack of experience and planning. It's good experience though, for the future.

You can also see the frame side bar and wires used to hold in the foundation and the foundation itself at the bottom right.

I also brought the comb in for the kids to see and taste (with a matchstick) some of the honey. At least now they have made a direct connection between honey in a jar and the ladies that made it.

I once heard about some schoolchildren who, when asked where milk came from, said 'the supermarket'. Sign of the times.

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