Monday 21 May 2012

Ninja Beekeeping

Oh My God! I'm getting too old for this! Not really, hopefully all the excited running about and the occasional bit of bee string therapy will keep me young(ish)......... 

At 19:15 I had just got off the phone to Shane regarding the bees he was off to rescue detailed below when I noticed an e-mail from Dave (Lord Tedric) regarding a number of possible swarms.  Frantic phone calls to Dave revealed that he had already caught one of them near the McDonald's on the Derby ring road and was about to put it into one of his new top bar hives, so could I contact the other two to try and retrieve some bees. My first contact, in Kings Newton nr. Melbourne, told me they had already taken off, but he would keep an eye out for them and get back in touch. The second call was to a lovely couple, Martin & Penny, in Kegworth for what turned out to be another colony of Common Carder Bumble Bees ("I seem to be slowly acquiring the National Collection!"). I told them I was more than happy to move them and twenty minutes later I was at their house. In the gathering gloom I was presented with a lovely little bird box, in amongst some overgrown ivy, absolutely bursting with the unmistakably fawn and white Common Carders. Apparently they had been rather aggressive over the last few days; with the glowing Penny not only having giving birth four days earlier but also getting stung on the cheek as well - it's not easy being a Mum! I suspect that the close proximity to the back door, their cramped accommodation and the dire weather we've had for the last few weeks were all factors that caused this unusual  bumble bee behaviour.

Might once have been for birds, has definitely
seen mice (phew!) and is now home to bumble bees.

As there seemed to be quite a lot of bees in this nest I decided that full suit and gloves would be the order of the day and after waiting for as many bees to return I plugged the hole with a small piece of sponge. I then cut away some of the ivy to access the condition and fixings of the box, which was well entwined within the undergrowth; so-much-so that I needed the help of a claw hammer to begin prising it away from its post. Just as I was seconds away from lifting the whole box into my waiting pillowcase the thin plywood roof came away. Merde! Twenty or so bees made a bolt for it but I managed, using my knees, elbows and teeth, to hold the lid on and finally get the box off and into the bag. I'm not sure what fate will befall the escapees but I think I salvaged the majority of the colony.

Twenty minutes later, back at home and in near darkness, I'm ready to undertake a Ninja relocation. I decided to attach the bird box to a new fence post my neighbour had recently erected adjoining the bottom of our gardens. With all my kit ready - battery drill, screws, secateurs, string, hammer etc., I gingerly opened the string tied pillow case expecting lots of agitated bees to come flying out. But I was surprised that there were none; more by luck that judgement they seem to have all managed to get back inside the box. I took the opportunity to put a few stabilising screws into the weather beaten lid, added some string for good measure and attached it to the chosen post. Then 1-2-3 quickly pulled the sponge out of the hole and moved smartly back to the house; praying they wouldn't all chase me - which they didn't! Hopefully they haven't suffer too much from the ordeal and will settle into their new location during the next few days.

Now that they are all tucked-up in bed it's time for me to do the same.........



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