|The hive-stand - repairs and mods in progress|
Then, just the other day, I decided that the mobile stand was just the thing I needed for another project, so I wandered down into the wild part of the plot where I'd left it.
There I found the stand, collapsed, maybe broken, lying on the ground. The catch-box lay forlornly upside down, lid stuck in the mud. Well, nothing really new for me where bees are concerned, and, anyway, it was the stand I wanted. I briskly turned the box right side up on the grass, and tugged at the lid -- with a certain caution in case a snake had decided, as they often do, that a catch-box would make a fine winter home. It wouldn't budge. Well, it always did get a bit stuck. Catch-boxes rarely have a lot of effort put in to their construction quality. Tugged the lid again and it finally came free, only to reveal,... a LOT of bees!
Now I'm standing there in jeans and T-shirt and no protective gear to be had. And these bees are Apis scutellata capensis -- those ones everybody hysterically labels "Killer Bees". I quickly shove the lid back onto the box and beat a hasty retreat. The stand will have to wait for another day, since the catch-box -- now upright, at least -- is still settled quite squarely atop the stand.
Fast forward a couple of days to today. It's time to get the bees out of the mud, at least, and retrieve the stand so it can be repaired and beefed up a bit. Suitably armoured in my bee outfit, hive tool and smoker in hand, I traipsed down to the wild side once again. It was late morning, and a fine, warm winter's day. The hum of bees foraging in the flowering shrubs is loud, and a sure indication that most of the workers will be out of the hive and hard at work. The best circumstances for opening the hive up for a look.
|Catch-box, now lifted up off the ground, and less vulnerable|
to ants and other pests. Trust me that it's full of bees!
With the box no longer atop the stand, I retrieved that and moved it out of the way. Then it was back to the box to take a wee look at what we have in there...
After a bit of smoke, I lifted the lid. It's full of bees. They're making a most peculiar noise, something like a dog, half growling in the back of its throat with warning. The feeling I get from them is that it's simply a warning -- "There's smoke about" -- but not any sense of anger or panic.
They've emphatically welded all the frames to the box with copious quantities of propolis, to the point where I fear breaking the frames if I apply too much force trying to break them free of the box with my hive tool (a suitably modified horseshoe, really). Not wanting to disturb them too much -- after all, how many swarms have we already lost? Don't want to take any chances pissing this one off! -- I replace the lid and leave them to their own devices.
I did get a sense that it's getting slightly crowded in there, but, as I didn't actually lift the frames out to check I'm not sure... In a month or so, as Spring weather begins to get a proper grip, I'll rehouse them in a full-size brood box. I'd do it now, but there's cold weather predicted for next weekend, and I'd not like to put them in a situation where they abscond because I put them in a box bigger than they can warm.
Meanwhile I shall construct a permanent, Baboon-resistant, Ratel-proof stand nearby , and rehouse the swarm into a full-sized brood-box. I figure that if they're happy in that place, who am I to argue?
Mood: Ecstatically happy!