Update on 2020 Swarming Season

Good News – Everyone on my list of members wanting swarms has now received one. If there is any member who thinks they asked for one but has not received one please let me know. Meanwhile several members have asked for a second swarm and I have now started to supply them.

The ‘Hoover’ has been put to good use and has been requested and used by three members now. Unfortunately by the time we arrived for the second, the swarm was just flying off but I was able to demonstrate the Hoover’s use. However, we did receive a donation to the Club house fund for our troubles, which brings the donations from swarms to just over £600 this year.

The photo on the left shows me collecting a swarm about 30 feet off the ground. It does help to have a second person to use the second pole to push obstructing branches aside (see picture on right).

There are one or two modifications that I want to make to the Hoover to make it easier to use.

I had an interesting incident after collecting a swarm from a pine tree in Burwood Park. The next swarm was spread over a gravel drive but I could not get the bees up so gave up on the Hoover and reverted to the traditional skep (see right). On the next occasion a member wanted the Hoover for a high swarm. After using it the swarm was removed from the tree but no bees were in the box. Shaking the tubes revealed them all within. At that point we suspected a blockage so used a second smaller tube to push through to find what was causing it. Out popped a small pine cone, perfectly shaped to wedge in the tube, and suddenly all was working again.

Michael Main

Hive weights from David Brassington

Here is my latest hive weights chart. As usual I include last year for comparison. Only two active colonies at the moment but one is rocketing up (both in honey weight and height). It is about a month ahead of our monster hive from last year. We might need a cherry picker this time! The only problem is that the bees are very aggressive so I don’t want to disturb them except to add supers (and they even get angry about that). Our other hive swarmed and since then is just marking time. With luck it will start to gain weight soon. It is quite active. The swarm was very high in a tree but we thought we had got all the kit to collect it from the ground (cardboard box attached to telescopic lopper and rope round the branch – has worked well in the past). Unfortunately the swarm took off just as we were ready – only an hour after it settled.

Hive weights from Geoff Cooper in Hersham

You will see that, apart from one week, the flow last month was virtually down to zero.
The cumulative change is ongoing from last month’s figures.
Date Weight Change (lb) Cumulative Change (lb)
May 1st -1.4 38.1
May 7th +14.6 52.7
May 17th -4.8 47.9
May 24th -2.9 45.0
May 31st +4.1 49.1