Tuesday, July 9, 2013

independence declared; a post by Zak

Oh how perfectly timed these moments I shroud my days in can be.  They ring out like a beautiful voice, rising and falling, glow like a wrinkle in time tucked in a lovers eye, or stare at you out of the darkness and hollow silence of monotony.  Any other day I would have been slaying the relentless defiance of some shrub, pushing it once more into a cookie cutter ideal of curb appeal.  However, thanks to the kindness and forethought of our founding fathers, they decided on signing the Declaration of Independence on that day as a personal favor to me.  So that in the future I could be home to tame our bees own declaration of independence.
The day was progressing like any other and we were just about to leave to go to breakfast with some friends, which we were already quite late for.  I ran out to quickly put something behind the garden shed before we left for the day and as I came around the shed and stepped into my wild laboratory that's when it hit me, full on like a wave.  The buzzing ran its fingers over my body, bringing every hair to attention.  As I stared at the dark, ceaselessly shifting mass above me my first thought was that the bees were just being really active after a few days of rain.  Then I saw the opening of our hive and suddenly I knew exactly what was happening.  The torrents of bees literally gushing from the hive mouth could be nothing other then a swarm.  I ran inside, informed Michelle, and called our friend Carl to see if he had a spare hive box I could borrow.  Luckily he was on his way to check his bees, another beautifully fated coincidence.  I wasn't going to let these bees get away.  So with no real concrete idea of what I was doing I put on the bee suit and waited until all the bees in the air (about 20,000 at least) landed on a tree branch about 20 feet off the ground.  The bees amass in a giant cluster for anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days while scout bees search for a new hive sight.  With no idea how much time I would have, I quickly cut away all of the vines and branches that were blocking access to the swarm and set up a ladder.  Michelle using that big sexy brain of hers, said I should make up some sugar water solution to spray them down with.  This makes it so they cannot fly and the sugar makes them content.  It was about this time Carl showed up and the second phase of the adventure began.  We set up the box, blocked the entrance and took the top off.  Then began my incredibly precise and technical method of trapping the swarm.  I will try to keep this explanation simple, as I realize most of you are inexperienced with bees.  I climbed the ladder and using a piece of cardboard I knocked as many of the bees as I could, (hoping the queen was amongst them) into a 3 gallon bucket and quickly put the lid on.  I then descended the ladder and with the help of Carl dumped them in the hive and quickly put the top on.  We did this 3 or 4 times until we had most of the bees, switching who got to wear the suit and who was ground support.  After that, all I had to do was give the new hive a feeder with some sugar water to help them get straight to making comb.  Nothing like a little hands on learning.
I would like to give a special shout out to mother nature for laying this bounty on our doorstep and remind her she's always welcome to come over for drinks and crash on our couch if need be.

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