Bee rescue

So last week (Thursday 9th) moved to rescue my Buckfast queen “Danish Lady”. The colony was just not building up right in the previous inspections; in the last I could see no sealed brood, few bees and no sign of her. I thought the treatment with varroa guard had done for her.

So, I planned to have a shook swarm into a nuc. I prepared ahead of time, nuc, sheet, frozen comb, some stores and foundation. I put a super on the floor, put a mesh floor slide board up to it to make a ramp. Putting a sheet over both, I put the nuc on top, took the lid off to allow insertion of the queen to the hive; so her scent would draw the others in.

I went to the troubled hive and started taking frames out, starting with ones with no bees. Where I found bees I shook them onto the sheet in front of the hive after looking for the marked queen, all going to plan.

Then I found a patch of sealed brood. Ahh, the queen was doing slightly better than last week and is still here somewhere. So, plan B, not all new frames, I wasn’t going to throw this lot away. So I continued to shake off bees and pulling out frames; no more brood, just the one precious patch.

I checked the bees on the sheet and there she was, with a bright green mark; don’t know how I ever miss her, but there you go. I picked her up on the edge of a hive tool and popped hee in the top of the box along with her brood. Great! Brood in, queen in; the bees should smell them and follow along now… well come on then, in you go, I don’t have all day.

Oh, did I forget to mention it was windy; windy enough to probably blow away any attractive scent … oops.

Well, time to get the bees moving in, maybe if they see their sisters going in they will get the idea. Smoke them up into the nuc, shake the sheet towards the nuc, shout “come on, she’s in there!”; all tried with small levels of success. Then the smoker ran out of fuel. After a top up of slightly damp grass I got some nice yellowish smoke; oh yeah raining a bit too, not ideal conditions.

Anyway cutting a long story short, I got most in and the others can take their chances with one of the other hives there. I took the nuc away and drove home slowly due to forgotten hive straps.

The bees seem to be getting along ok in my garden for now, so I will cross fingers for a good build up.

Lessons to learn

  • Hive straps
  • Have multiple plans
  • Weather is a pain
  • Pheromone smell travel best without wind
  • Steeper angle on a ramp will allow you to smoke bees ‘up’. Smoking sideways tends to scatter them.
  • If you are in a rush, the bees won’t be.