We left off with Jess and tens of thousands of bees going crazy in the backyard. I (in my sleeveless shirt) had hightailed it to the front yard to continue to mow the lawn and take a wait-and-see approach. It was only about ten minutes later that I saw Jess’ head in her beekeeping hat and veil pop up over the fence. “Come here! Come here! It’s safe now!”
The bees had mellowed out significantly and were in that nice, neat clump up in the tree.
In all the excitement, Jess somehow stepped the wrong way and managed to sprain her ankle. In case you forgot, she had already sprained her wrist the day before. So here she was, in terrible pain, not able to do much for herself, and our worst fears about the health of our beehive were coming true. She had peeked into the hive and confirmed there were capped off swarm cells. No doubt about it, the bees were swarming. Tears ensued.
I did my best to comfort her with an ice pack, Ibuprofen, and a pep talk. It could be worse. Maybe there is something we can do, and if not there are still bees in our hive and hopefully a new queen will survive. It will be okay. Call a bee club buddy! She has a beekeeping mentor and everything. And through a strange series of events, Jess knew just who to call first.
I happen to be a 911 dispatcher. And it just so happens that a lot of honey bees are swarming these days. Go figure. When my friend at work couldn’t get ahold of anyone recently to catch a swarm, he mentioned to the supervisor that we keep bees and could probably hassle somebody for an updated list. And that is exactly what Jess did. So she met this nice guy Duane whose job it was to compile a new list of people interested in catching swarms. And Duane had also just given a demonstration at the monthly meeting of a contraption he had built to catch swarms.
So I brought Jess a phone and she called Duane. And he answered. And he told us to come right over to borrow his fancy swarm catching bucket contraption! This was something of a miracle. Jess was in no shape to drive, and the clock was ticking until I had to go to work. We managed to jet out to his workshop in the most idyllic setting (land, bees, cows, kids, a garden and a gorgeous dog) to borrow the tool. If he wasn’t otherwise engaged, he would have even come over to help us. In our experience, all the people that are a part of the Olympia Beekeepers Association are this generous and helpful.
Also, Duane asked us enough of the right questions to determine that even if we managed to catch our swarm, we didn’t have anywhere to put them. He then LENT US A SPARE BEEHIVE. Amazing, right? So we went home with a borrowed hive:
And a contraption built out of a Home Depot all-purpose bucket:
Pretty genius really. The thing was very well constructed and easy to understand. He had replaced the bottom of the bucket with wood and a metal piece in the middle to attach a long metal pole. There were several poles you could attach to keep extending the reach further, enabling you to reach a hive otherwise out of reach. Luckily for us, ours had settled in a pretty convenient location.
The lid of the bucket had the center cut out and a mesh vent in its place. And the really smart part is the lid is attached by rope. Once you knock the bees into the bucket, you yank the rope and it pulls the lid back on top to close the bees in.
After a some quick instructions, we loaded up my car and raced home just in time for me to run to my meeting. Somewhere along the way we came up with a plan. Jess would hobble around trying to get things set up, go pick up Levi who was due to be back from the water park, and we would all cross our fingers that the bees wouldn’t go anywhere for the next two hours.
Stay tuned for more. In the meantime you can watch this cool video of a different contraption that makes catching a swarm look easy-peasy.