Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From a Swarm on a Tree Branch to a New Top Bar Hive Colony

On the way to my beekeeping mentors Apiary, I decided to check quickly on my Top Bar Hive. I opened the observation window and saw bunch of bees doing what they are always doing ... building combs, cleaning, flying in and out, etc ... i did see many bees flying infront of the hive but all newly emerged bees must go out to perform their "orientation flight" before becoming a Honey Gathering Bee so I didnt suspect anything unusual, even though Swarming did come to mind but left it as far as it came ;)

So I was at my mentors Apiary all day learning about bees as you can see in my previous post :) Then it was time to go home for the day. My plan was to make some food, feed the dog and go out to mow the lawn. On the way home I got a strong feeling to check once again on my Top Bar Hive, not sure why, but I did. 

When I opened the window I could see almost all combs clearly, thinking to my self how little bees there is in the hive and that most are probably outside collecting honey. I also spotted a nice big Queen Cell. This was not a surprise because we killed the Queen by accident and I expected this collony to make new Queens which are to emerge on the 8th of July and today is the July 3rd.
So I made a (very poor) photo of the Queen Cell, closed the hive window and sat in the car to drive off, when yet again I felt this strong feeling to check the hive once again! I thought this to be very unusual feeling so I switched off the car and went back to check the hive.

I opened the window, looked at the bees, the Queen Cell, the combs ... I closed the window and got up raining my head hight up towards the near by Birch Trees, when a strange silouete hanging on the branch cought my eye. I squeezed my eyes to see better and I was certain once the adrenaline started pumping through my body! My hive had Swarmed and there it was ... hanging on a branch waiting for the Scout Bees to return with their new home address!

I immediately called my mentor and asked him what to do. He said to climb up as soon as possible and spray them well with water so they "cool down" as he put it. Lime this they will keep sitting longer on the branch to dry the wings.

So I put on my Anorak, rubber gloves and a spray bottle filled with water. The cluster was at about 6 meters up on the tree so I climbed it easily thanks to the lower branches. I sprayed the cluster well and while doing it I could clearly see bees danicing in the No.8 shape! These are the Scout Bees which returned to tell about their new home's location. So I sprayed a bit more just to make sure they are cooled down enough until I return with a collection basket.

I went to ask for help and to bring the ladder, so Elke-Emilia (EE) joined me on this epic journey. This is the first time Im to catch my own swarm and she was never into beekeeping so you can imagine the excitenment level LOL :)

I took with an empty basket in which I added a few drops of Lemon Grass essential oil. Bees love this smell! I went up on the tree, now standing on the ladder, placed the basket under the cluster and shook the branch strongly ... most of the bees fell into it and immediately a few made sure to sting me through the socks OUCH OUCH came out of my mouth, climbing quickly down to get the heck away from the stinging bees. 
 The basket full of bees
I placed a wooden box on top of the basket
 Some bees were still on the branch so I decided to cut it off and place it above the basket
 Emilia watching with amazement
 I was pretty sure the Queen was in the basket when I saw the bees fanning the pheromone from the Nasonov Gland (the white opening on their back) inviting their sisters to move into this new place

 Spraying them a few more times to cool them down before moving them to their new Top Bar Hive
 Moving in progress (behind me is the tree the swarm was on)
 passing by their old home :)

removing the Top Bars so to make space for shaking the bees into the hive
 Its time to shake them into the TBH
 most of the bees were hanging on the cover
 I was pretty sure the Queen was in the middle of this cluster
 shaking !!!
 shaking the remaining bees from the basket
 Not to forget to mention, before shaking the bees into the hive I added a few drops of Lemon Grass Essential Oil into the hive to attract the bees
 Placing the Top Bars gently over the bees
I prefer water spray bottle to the smoker
 To be able to close the top bars totally I pushed the bees out of the way gently with the knife's dull side
 this takes time ... patience my dear ;)
 Emilia being a very good assistant. Thank you EE

 The new Top Bar Hive Collony
At the back the hive bees swarmed from, in the middle is the best beekeepeing assistant in whole of Sweden (well, if not in whole of Sweden than defenetly the best in whole of Södra Viken) and in front the new Top Bar Hive the swarm moved into ... with our help of course :) 
Lets see if they are still inside tomorrow :P
What a day :)


  1. Very good job collecting them and putting them in there new home!

  2. Excellent photo documentation. I feel like I was right there with you capturing that swarm.

  3. thank you all. it sure was a fantastic experience