Swarm Troopers (Thursday 23rd June 2022)

Just three days ago, I documented the arrival of not one but two colonies of honeybees, reinstating me as an actual beekeeper since Storm Eunice toppled by last remaining overwintered hive back in February. Here I likened honeybees to busses – wait long enough for one and two then arrive together. Well, it turns out I was wrong. Three is the magic number. Why? Because, within hours of writing that blogpost, up popped a call via a Facebook community group: ‘Help! A swarm has landed in my garden!’ Lucky for me, I was the first to respond, and they are now happily settled in a polynuc, awaiting relocation to a full-size hive as permanent home. Retrieving a swarm is such a magical experience – I’m yet to meet a beekeeper who has tired of watching a colony ‘march’ willingly into a box (the trick is to get the queen in first – once she is safely in there, the rest will follow).

This is a slightly bigger swarm than the one that arrived into the bait hive, but smaller in number than the purchased colony. And, again, they are beautifully dark in colour, some with a fine deep golden stripe/others with slightly wider gold band – and a lovely calm temperament. And what a wonderful midsummer Solstice gift – from zero to three colonies in three weeks flat! I have not yet seen the Queen in this one – I sneaked a peak inside, briefly, this evening (to get a ‘feel’ for size and temperament), but I won’t be disturbing them for a week or more (other than to add supplementary feed and precautionary varroa treatment), leaving them in peace to get on with the important business of drawing out comb (building ‘furniture’) so that the Queen can start her essential work of laying eggs to produce more bees. There is just the one other job for me at this early stage: I’ve never previously named any of my Queen bees, but feel I want to from now on – starting with this one, who I am dubbing ‘Amanda’, after the lady whose garden she and her entourage decided to land in.

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