One of my scouts ran home to
tell me he’d found a swarm of bees this weekend. They were spotted
flying in and out of the small hole in the concrete block that covers a
Telstra access point in the footpath.
The swarm visible through the access hole
Being only a few doors away from our house we were
pretty certain they’d only just arrived so we decided to try and
relocate them to one of our own Warre top-bar hives.
Step one was to phone the all-knowing Bee Mentor
for advice. I wasn’t even sure how I was going to get the
bees from the hole into my hive, but the hope was that the swarm was
clustered on the underside of the cement block and could be easily
brushed into an open hive. We gathered up our bottom board, hive box and
hive lid, beesuits, tools that might help lift the block and a soft
brush and set off down the street.
All three sons were involved in this adventure;
second son had found the swarm and led the party, oldest son donned a
beesuit and assisted in the relocation manoeuvre and youngest son was
chief photographer. The spectators were the builders on site over
the road who kindly shared tools and provided us with a mini crowbar to
lift the cement block. Seeing that they’d stopped work to line the
roof and watch did generate a bit of performance anxiety.
We carefully planned exactly what we were
going to do to avoid dropping the heavy cement block by hesitating too
long! We placed the open hive on the entrance board and moved it
close by. Using the crowbar we gently eased up one side of
the slab and peered into the dark hole to see the bees hanging under the
access hole like a cone-shaped pineapple. We then lifted
the slab and placing the hanging swarm over the empty hive we gave it a
gentle bump onto the box in order to ‘dump’ the swarm down into the
Transferring the swarm from the concrete slab into the hive
Brushing the last of the bees down into the hive
The majority of bees were now clinging to the
inside walls of the hive box and some flew up around us. We tilted
the slab to gently brush those that were still clinging to the
underside of the slab into the box before removing the slab and
Bees trying to return to the Telstra hole before the lid is replaced
The hive before adding frames
Adding frames to the hive
The frames that we added to the hive have recently had comb cut from
them. Remaining at the top of the frames is the skeleton structure
of the previous comb which will serve as a guide for the bees when they
begin to add their own comb. Some of the frames also had an inch
of ‘starter strip’ wax foundation as they were new
frames and had not yet been used in a hive.
Once the lid was on the hive the bees began to gather at the
entrance. The slab was now back in place and the entrance hole
blocked. The hive sat close to the blocked entrance hole and the
bees gathered outside on the footpath began to slowly move into the
We sat on the grass watching and waiting while the bees slowly
settled down and only a few still flew around outside the hive.
Eventually I covered the entrance and walked the hive back home to the
new site, which sits at least 10 metres from our existing
hive. Once in the new position I opened the entrance and
let out the eager bees. When I lifted the lid to add a
‘quilt box’ on top to help insulate the hive I could already see the
bees hanging in a cluster under the frames. This hopefully
indicates that the queen is present and uninjured and at the centre
of the bee cluster.
Next day the bees could be seen coming and going from the hive, a
couple bringing back pollen and one or two crash landing in front as if
heavy with nectar (I hope). Unfortunately we have had overcast
weather and a lot of rain so the bees will be struggling to
forage. As soon as the weather clears I am going to ‘borrow’
frames of honey and brood from my existing hive to help along this new
colony, as suggested by Bee Man.
The bees in their new home enjoying a long-awaited burst of sunshine
The excitement I felt this time last year when my first hive was
delivered is nothing to how I feel having caught this swarm
myself! I hope their new home suits them and that the
weather is kind and helps them get established quickly.