We've just captured our first swarm of Bees!
A couple of hours ago, Dale noticed a swarm forming around the Thorn Tree near the house, and called me to come and have a look. As we watched, they moved over to a Lavender Bush growing at the corner of the patio. Half an hour or so later, they had all disappeared. Or so we all thought.
Just what prompted me to look closer, I'm not sure. There they were, in a clump the size of a Melon, clustered around a few of the Lavender branches, no more than 20cm off the ground.
We flew into action: Dale off to find a cardboard shoebox, me to grab an empty beehive and place it on a bench off the ground. Couldn't find a piece of board for a ramp; used one of the beehive inner-lids.
About two-thirds of the bees fell into the shoebox. Lots of bees buzzing around, but it was pretty clear to me -- dressed in my ultra-protective shorts and T-shirt! -- that this was a confused buzzing rather than an angry buzzing. How the hell would I know a thing like that? I've never yet had the privilege of keeping bees in reality, though I've wanted to for some years, now.
Gently shook the bees onto the ramp leading up to the beehive. In theory they should have started walking up the ramp into the darkness of the hive, but instead, just lots of aimless milling about. Gave them 10 or 15 minutes to calm down, and, sure enough, there under the Lavender, was a somewhat-reduced clump of Bees. Obviously we missed the Queen the first time around. Lopped of a couple of interfering branches and tried again. BUZZZZZZZ... lots of Bees in the shoebox again... Dale standing by to whip off the lid of the hive... Unceremoniously DUMPed the whole lot of them directly into the hive, and ("careful, don't squash the Bees!") quickly slide the lid back on.
Almost instantly, all the bees buzzing about outside the hive started barreling into the hive as fast as they could find the entrance. All but a couple of dozen standing on the landing platform outside the hive entrance, looking for all the world like Jumbo Jets revving their engines to the max at the start of a very short runway, clinging on for dear life, as their wings fanned fresh air into the hive. Clearly we got the Queen on our second attempt.
Half an hour later, they seem to have settled into the hive quite happily, humming away contentedly. OB the PhD thinks we've specially arranged a box of Mexican Food Doggie Treats for her -- she loves to eat bees. I guess that they taste like Chillis in a Sweet Syrup -- very yummy! It will be easier for her once I can move them a little further away from the house, but in the meantime she's filled with Insatiable Curiosity about the humming noise coming from the box.
Great fun. Great excitement. And nobody got a stung. I guess I'd better read that Bee book again pretty quickly!