School bees rescued
On a dark wet Friday afternoon after school, the cherry-picker arrived so that we could at last rescue the so-called swarm from the birch tree in the schoolyard. (Apologies — the camera failed atop of the cherry-picker platform!)
The swarm did in fact turn out to be an established colony that probably arrived in early summer but had gone unnoticed until just recently. For the first time, the four vertical combs suspended from the branch could be seen as the bees were contracting to keep warm. They had obviously been foraging well as the colony smelt strongly of the ivy nectar it had been gathering.
A local beekeeper had come prepared with an empty hive, and hoisted by a cherry-picker, we cut the comb from the branch and tied it into frames for their new home. The new owner will feed and treat for varroa immediately (there don’t seem to be resistant varroa in these parts, so Apistan should provide quick immediate knock-down and can then stay in for six weeks).
Only time will tell if the colony is big enough to can survive disturbance so late in the year. Whether it is wise to rescue bees with genes so optimistic that they are confident enough to set up home in the open air in advance of a British winter is a moot point!
Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger