Last week I posted our need for a swarm on our neighborhood Yahoo! list. I did the same last year and we got two hives from within a two block radius of our house. One was an extraction from our friend's front porch and another was a swarm in a neighbor's tree.
The swarm was easy to gather. I backed the truck up right under the tree with an empty hive box in it. We shook the branch and the bees just dropped into the box. We put the lid on it and sat back to watch. The remaining bees slowly flew into the hive box and that night I drove it home (a block away) and we set them up in the back yard.
Today, a neighbor had his backyard hive swarm into a tree in his yard. He called me up and I went right over. He had a cardboard box which he shook the bees into and added the last remaining ones left on the branch by cutting a piece off and putting in the box too. We were both suited up so he handed the box down the ladder to me and we walked the box of bees the one block back to the homestead. We were quite a sight in our big white suits and hoods walking down the street carrying a box of bees. I had a hive box ready in the garden and we dumped the bees right into it. Immediately, they began to work the flowers in the garden. It was amazing! The irises were loaded with bees and so were the blackberry blossoms and fava flowers. Tonight they are tucked into their new home. You can hear it humming when you put your ear to the hive box. I love that sound.
The front porch hive extraction was not quite so easy.... The bees were very tolerant of all the hammering and cutting it took to get to them. It was a strangely cold day and so they were moving slow. Lots of filled honeycomb was in that little front porch.
My husband Paul was able to fit the natural comb into hive box frames using rubber bands. Eventually the bees filled out these frames and chewed off the rubber bands.
We were able to fit them right into the hive box, load them into the truck and take them out to a friend's farm three miles away. They stayed out there for a few weeks and then we brought them home. Had we just brought them home a block away they would have all flown back to our friend's porch!
It will be warm again tomorrow. I better get another hive box ready!