Do you notice something weird about this tree? (except the ladder)
Me neither. But the neighbours did. In fact, they heard something weird: a constant buzzing. A buzzing created from thousands of bees that were all sitting in one big pile in one of the tops branches. Apparently nothing new in the neighbourhood: three years ago another swarm of bees had taken a rest in the next tree over.
Since my mum started keeping bees a few weeks ago, the neighbours first instinct was to call her: „Hey, I think your bees flew away…“. But they hadn’t, my mums bees were busily flying in and out of their two hives in our garden. So she called her bee keeper teacher who is also a „bee capturer“ (I started seriously considering taking that up as profession, that’s how cool it sounded to me). He explained: Once a bee colony gets too strong, the bees will start feeding a bunch of eggs some extra special food which causes them to grow into queens rather than just regular worker bees. The old queen will then take off with about half of the colony to found a new hive. Problem is, there are barely anymore natural hives like hollow tree trunks. So: many colonies end up under roofs, in chimney or garden sheds. Or if they can’t find any of those, they’ll just stay in whatever spot they were when they started running low on food and build a new hive there from scratch. Our bees where still searching.
So the bee catcher geared up: suit, head net, climbing harness and tons of ropes, carabiners, a saw. And climbed the tree. Not an easy feat in 28°C degree weather.
He dragged a box behind him and – once at the top – he somehow managed to position it underneath the colony, take the lid off, hold himself up and finally hit the colony and have it drop straight into the box.
Some of the bees that escaped the box are excited that their colony found are hive and a dancing to let all the others know
I was impressed, the bees were not. Too bad for them. While some thousand didn’t make it into the box or escaped before the lid was on, most of them made it in – most importantly, the queen did. And while the bee catcher carefully secured the lid and climbed back onto solid ground, at first the remaining bees buzzed around in panic, settled back in a pile, dispersed again, piled up again.
But when they piled up the second time it seemed like some were missing, and then more and more. We only found out where they were disappearing to, when we went back into the house: they were seeking asylum with our hives!