A tale of two halves. On the down side some weeks ago I rescued a swarm from a colony in Leicester that had clustered in an apple tree 10 yards from their hive. However, due to the occupier's lack of vigilance they had been in the rain for two days. I was able to scrape a few survivors from the grass and the bedraggled remains of the swarm were carefully clipped into a box and brought back to Donington for some R & R. I had thought they were doing well. Numbers were beginning to rise, there was some brood, the queen was moving well, pollen and nectar was coming in, all looked good. So I left them for a couple of weeks for holidays and stuff but now I've returned the hive is empty of life: just a couple of workers head first in comb, a sure sign of starvation. I had hoped they would pull through for a happy ending.
On the plus side, Adam and I homed a swarm today, collected from Richard's garden (the fourth swarm in less than a year - his house must be on a lay line). Adam's hive is on the roof of his shed at the bottom of his lovely garden in Woodville. Whilst the colony had not expanded dramatically they had collected sufficient to be storing a surplus at the top of a couple of comb. This was more than enough to demonstrate that if they can get through the winter, with a bit of feeding they will do well next year. The bees were content to be moved and handled, despite my trepidation, as they had been quite noisy in their box on the way to their new home. I'm optimistic for this lot. Adam will be a conscientious custodian and the colony, though small, looked good - but I've thought that before haven't I?
Natural (more sympathetic/less interventionist) beekeeping will be a game of 'swings and roundabouts'. The loses of swarms au natural are very high, often over 50%, so in collecting them we shouldn't expect to be successful everytime. It's natural selection in action, still a shame though......