JUNE

Thankfully the early swarming seems to be over, at least for the immediate future. I did receive one call last week which, unfortunately I was unable to attend as I was on my way to see a friend in hospital, but I later had a report that a fellow collector had responded successfully. I did however receive one more swarm call, this time from a lady who runs a local play group to report that bees had taken up residence in the roof of their building. I knew from the details of the swarm that this wasn’t a honeybee swarm but as the lady was obviously a little agitated and obviously concerned about the harmful effect on her charges, I agree to take a look the following day. The building isn’t a million miles from my Station Apiary and knew it would set her mind at rest to have someone take a look, so, the following morning found me at the gate of the playground being greeted by several of the children. “You’re the Bee Man aint ya, we got bees in our roof”. I was being addressed by the oldest boy, obviously the ring leader, and before I could answer, “I bin frowin mud at ‘em”. My mind went back immediately to my youth and the “Just William” books I used to read so avidly. This was just the sort of conversation I could imagine William having. I began to explain that if you do something to make bees cross they might come down and sting you, but I needn’t have bothered. They had by now, lost interest in me and their bees and made off in the direction of the swings, and probably to find more mud I shouldn’t wonder. The lady who had made the call approached, “Thank you so much for coming, I see you’ve met the children” she said. I replied that I had and that she was welcome and as I had suspected, this was just a small colony of bumble bees and that left to their own devices, that they would eventually move on to pastures new. “Oh, that’s a relief, so they won’t sting anyone.”  I assured her that bumble bees seldom if ever sting, although, “frowin mud at ‘em” was probably not the best course of action. With a final look from her that suggested that I was ever so  slightly mad, I took my leave.

I’m continuing to keep a close eye on my colonies in view of the swarm situation so far this year and yet, as well as the Mendip “C” colony that swarmed earlier, it looks as though two from The Station apiary have also managed to slip below the radar. The swarms that I have collected this year have turned out to be a mixed bag thus far with only two looking as though they are going to make it. This despite having all been fed as required and in two cases, given a frame of brood to help them on. Even the swarm from “C”, now hived at The Station has not lived up to it’s expectations. It was a good job I took the decision to give them a frame of brood from their parent colony at the outset as, although they have been collecting plenty of stores and drawing out new comb, there has been absolutely no sign of fresh activity in the brood box. This despite the fact that they appear to have a very nice little queen, plump and very active but, not an egg to be seen. For that reason, I decided to remove her at my last visit and have given them a frame of brood from one of the other hives. This frame has plenty of eggs and very young brood in evidence so hopefully, at my next visit I shall find new queen cells.