May 3, 2012

Today our second hive swarmed. We really didn't anticipate this one. Our neighbor came by around 1 pm to tell us that our hive was swarming and it was in her backyard AGAIN! I don't know what it is about her yard that they love so much but they do. I ran over to see where it landed and this time it was attached to a tree trunk about 7 feet from the ground smack in the middle of her backyard. I told her that I'd get someone to remove it right away.
Well, I made the usual round of calls and not a single beekeeper could come out to get the swarm. One beekeeper was nice enough to walk me through the process so the hubby and I decided we would retrieve it and keep the bees in a box until someone came to get them. Just before we set out to get the swarm I made a call to the MN Hobby Beekeepers Association to see who might want the bees once I boxed them up and a member told me that he had a list and would make calls. I got a call from a beekeeper that wanted to remove the swarm himself (it was his first time), so he came right over. Unfortunately, being a newbie at swarm removal, he wasn't quite sure what to do so he placed his hive body below the tree, climbed the ladder, and shook the thick branch. Bees didn't exactly fall into the box, they sorta tumbled and then started flying. This fiasco went on for about a dozen more tree shakes and each shake would create lots of angry bees, lots of flying, and an eventual return to the tree. The guy finally left and planned a return in a few hours.

In the meantime my hubby and I were talking to the neighbors about 20 feet from the swarm. The swarm had mostly calmed itself but one lone bee came flying over and hovered above my husbands head (thanks to his black hair the bees are really really attracted to him.) He tried walking further away but it followed and stung him right on the eyelid. Needless to say, my husband was NOT happy. He has had his fill of bee stings lately and right now I'm not really sure what he's thinking about our little insects. (the first picture is at urgent care.  I made my hubby go in to see if the doctor could at least give him something for the swelling.  He swells pretty awful when he is stung and I was afraid it would put pressure on his eye.  The doctor agreed and prescribed prednisone but now my goofy husband won't take it.)

(This second picture was taken 2 hours after the doctor visit.  He still won't take the meds nor will he take anymore benadryl. He's a glutton for punishment I guess).

On top of that, my neighbors were feeling a little put off as well. It turned out that both they and I have been thinking the same thing: what if our bees swarmed one day, none of us notice, and they let the dogs out to play? What if no one notices the swarm sitting on our fence, or on their table, or in the bush next to the house and they bring their 3 yr old granddaughter outside to run around? I live my life according to the Golden Rule so my neighbors weren't really thinking anything that I hadn't thought myself. They didn't tell me to get rid of my bees but I know I have to think about it. We do plan on a move to the country soon so we may just have to hold off on the beekeeping until we have more land.

About three hours later the beekeeper returned to try once again to remove the swarm (some of the bees were already in the hive body from his previous visit). This time he used his bee brush to scoop them up and dump them into the hive body. Once he felt he scooped enough he sat and waited but again, the bees that were flying kept returning to the tree and not the hive. He decided to take home the thousands he scooped up and left the chunk on the tree behind. We have no way of knowing if the queen was in the hive body or in the tree since it seemed the bees were divided on where they wanted to stay. All I know for sure is I hope the bees find their way back to my hive or else leave because if they don't I'm afraid they'll end up being exterminated in the morning :(

We did get some honey out of it all.  The guy who retrieved the swarm was a little confused by me.  He couldn't understand why someone would keep bees without the need or desire for honey.  I tried to explain to him that honey would be awesome but it really wasn't what drove me to keep bees but he just couldn't wrap his mind around that so when he returned the second time he brought me this big jar of honey and said, as he handed me the jar "this is why you become a beekeeper." 

I still don't agree with him but... lol!
Jim Davis said...

Wow, Michelle--that's really too bad, for your bees, certainly your husband and your neighborhood relationships. The conventional wisdom that says swarming bees are passive doesn't seem to hold much water, does it? Is there anywhere you can locate your hives in the countryside until you move there yourself? We've had farmers come to our bee meetings asking if anyone would like to keep hives on their property--perhaps that would be an option for you? Good luck--hate to see you have to give it up.

Mil said...

Sorry to see hubby's eye.

When our bees swarmed, the swarms would always land in the same tree too. I just learned that the queen leaves a pheromone which is attractive to passing swarms.

Hope the swarm all gets boxed up soon!!

Carrie Garvin said...

Oh no!!! I clearly remember the last time he was stung!!! He should take the meds- it only will get worst!!

So sorry to hear this happened- but what a trooper!

Hugs to all!

SoapSudsations said...

Your poor hubby! Hope he's feels better soon. It's nice to see that you've got some friends who've got some good ideas for your bees at least. Hope your neighbours remain understanding while you find a solution for your bees.

Sam Smith said...

Yea moving your bees to a place less inhabited would be a perfect idea, to bad that beek didn't know what he was doing :) swarms are generally very passive, I have noticed though that if the right shake or wack happens they get angry fast not sure why it takes a certain kind of wack.

Teresa Robeson said...

I agree with Carrie: your hubby needs to take the meds! Ugh...hope he's feeling better by today.

Michelle said...


Thanks for the idea! I think that is something that would work out well for us. I'm going to start checking with people who have lots of land.


The bees that were left behind disappeared in the night but the others were transferred nicely with their queen :)


It was those last stings on the hand that really made me worry about his eye. He swells horribly but all is looking good today. Swelling is going down.


I do feel lucky that I have people to talk to about all of this. It would be much more nerve racking doing it blind.


Yes, I agree. If he had been more experienced I don't think as many bees would have died, my husband wouldn't have been stung and it wouldn't have taken him from 1 pm - 9 pm to get the bees in the box. He killed hundreds just trying to get the swarm and when the first dozen shakes didn't work he just kept shaking. Hopefully he learns from this experience for next time he gathers a swarm.

Hey T,

Hubby refused to take the meds. His head looked like a watermelon last night but this morning the swelling is finally subsiding. His cheeks have returned to normal. I told him bee stings are the new botox since one side of his face looks 10 years younger. LOL!

Writingfor5 said...

LOL, i love your last comment! Keep us updated!

Randy Emmitt said...

Sorry about the hubby getting stung so bad. I had two bad stings recently, lots of swelling but not by the eye. Shame to have to get rid of your hives. We have 6 in our little back yard, going to move 3 of them to a farm soon.

Michelle said...

Thanks Randy!

I think we're going to end up doing the same. Buying new packages next spring and putting them on someone's property until we find land of our own.