I read today that a swarm, a real one and not an artificial one, has an attitude of extreme vigour and work. When I compare what I saw when I preformed the artificial swarm and what I see as a result of the actual swarm that occurred a week later; I am convinced. I inspected them with my father-in-law yesterday and I was impressed with the rate they had built comb. They were clustering over the comb they were building in dense ladders. They form these ladders where they hold on to each other by the front and back legs forming strings of bees. I have read that the ladders are part of the process of forming the wax comb into the very ordered hexagonal structure. Today I received an email from an experienced beekeeper who advised me to feed the bees. It was timely that I received the message while I was just walking into the supermarket and was able to stock up on sugar.
So, it may still be possible to get honey this year if the weather is fine and the swarmed Grelder’s daughters maintain their vigour. I fed them a large amount of sugar syrup in the hope that they will draw out comb on all the frames (or most of them) in the hive. If this happens and she lays eggs everywhere, then a foraging work force may be in place in three weeks or so and it is within the realms of possibility that some honey may be harvested. There are lots of ‘ifs’ in this story and it is an old country saying that….
A swarm in May is worth a load of hay;
a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon;
a swarm in July is worth a butterfly.
Tonight I had my initiation into the other side of beekeeping. My name was passed on to someone who has a hive of bees in a barn and they wanted to get rid of it. Part of me was a little worried that if they were actually honeybees then I would have no hive to put them in but I suspected that I need not worry. After a chat on the phone my suspicions were confirmed and it seems like the farmer has a wasp nest in his barn. He was actually quite interested when I explained the difference, as he said himself, “these things are good to know.”