Sunday, September 09, 2007

Capturing the Swarm

Charles, the beekeeper, and his companion Maria, came over to collect the swarm.

We had no idea what to expect, or if there was any sort of plan in place. Charles is a man of few words while he's working, and the last thing you want to do is pester him with questions. I try and stay quiet and out of the way, not an easy task when holding a straining Mooka on her leash, and taking pictures. Do you ever feel like a dumb American in your own country? Maria offered to hold Mooka, otherwise I would have completely missed all the pictures. I might have to rethink that next time.

Charles has an injured hip, so Popsey's assistance was needed more than usual. He ended up closely handling the hives for the first time.

They set up a ladder under the swarm.

Popsey positioned an empty hive box on top of the ladder, inches below the clump.

Charles said, “Step away now,” and promptly began tapping (hard tapping) the branch right above the swarm with his crutch. Bunches of bees fell and landed in the box.

The bees turned nasty (can't blame them), and went on the offense. The next few minutes were not pretty, and although I do have some pictures taken before I realized what was happening, they are not being posted out of respect for the attackees. This picture sums up my reaction.

I escaped unscathed, Popsey got away with only one sting, but Charles endured quite a few. He said it's good for him, and handled it calmly. We took a break and plucked out stingers.

A smoker and protective hats were dug out of the van, they covered up, and got back to work. Charles went over to what was left of the clump in the tree and gave it a few more whacks. more close-ups.

They set up a second ladder, and put a lid on the box. Charles climbed up and blew smoke inside the hive.

Then Popsey had to do one last thing...pick up the box of bees, and carry it to the van.

Charles took the bees to a new location. If he left them here, they would be more likely to leave the box and fly back into a tree or structure. Still, we were a little sad to see them go.

Not long after this was posted it became apparent that it was not a just a hip problem that was affecting Charles. He fell extremely ill and passed away about a month later. This may have been the last swarm he handled. We are honored to have had him here. This post is dedicated to him.

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