Sunday, May 8, 2011

Craigslist and Bee Swarms.

Yesterday when I came home from the rained out festival (my first time selling didn't go so great) there was a swarm of bees in the tree just off our front porch (I took some photos, I'll post them as soon as I unload my card). Last night we had a decent storm, and somehow they were still clinging to the limb today. By early afternoon I decided that perhaps if I put an ad on Craigslist somebody may be able to collect them and actually get them into a hive. I hated to see them go to waste if somebody had the capabilities to use them.

This is what amazes me about today's technology. Within an hour I got a call from a guy whose brother would be interested. He said this brother of his would be calling in a few minutes. Sure enough, Corky, the brother, called me and would head my way as soon as possible.

So, not two hours after I posted the ad about the free bee swarm, in the driveway pulls a guy to collect them. Now here comes the good part. He was new into bees, and had never collected them like this before. So, picture husband with loppers and this guy holding the tree limb with the basketball sized swarm of bees hanging off of it. Believe it or not, it wasn't as scary as you'd think (although Corky was shaking like a leaf), my husband seemed pretty calm and I wasn't but about five feet away from the action. The bees were never aggressive and after the limb was cut he set the bunch down over the open frames of the hive. They all started crawling in except for a few who took to landing on another limb in the tree. A few more snips of clumps of bees on limbs and everybody seemed to get the point that the queen was now in the hive and that's where they needed to be.

Joe was watching pretty intently too. I explained what they were doing and she seemed to understand. I thought it was a pretty neat experience for an eighteen month old to witness. Heck, I was finding it quite amazing to see the bees go from hanging on a branch to entering a new hive and all that potential danger contained in peaceful bees. Not everybody gets to see that in their lifetime. I've seen three swarms now since I've lived here. They seem to come back every year.

Corky was actually heading to Kentucky next weekend to pick up a couple of farm raised bee colonies. He was talking about how expensive it was to get into. His simple hives were about a hundred bucks by themselves, then you add the cost of buying the bees which is almost another hundred. Plus other random supplies for another fifty bucks and you've invested over two hundred dollars for one hive. So, you can understand why he'd be excited (he was the happiest guy I've ever seen) by the proposition of a free batch of bees. He was like a kid on Christmas morning (except he was slightly worried about if they were Africanized or the regular kind of honey bee). When he first looked at them he said, "Well if you see me out here running around and screaming...don't come out and help." We helped him anyway.

The whole time there was a girl, maybe sixteen, who was sitting in Corky's truck. Obviously she was not a beekeeper, nor did she want to help in any way. She just rolled the windows up and looked out at us like we were insane.

I would love to learn how to keep bees. They offer classes just south of here every spring, and I think it would be neat. I'd love to have a row of hives at the back of our property. I doubt I'd collect the honey, but it'd be nice to know I had neighbors pollinating all my fruit trees and flowers.
So, to end the story, it's pretty obvious to me that you can get rid of anything on Craigslist.


Jay said...

Nice read. I'm a beekeeper and I would say that the mother colony is close by if you have had 3 swarms in the same tree. Its probably within a 100' radius of the tree that the swarm is landing in(probably closer).

Julia Wright said...

There is a lot of trees out in that woodlot, so I imagine you're right. We've definitely got quite a few wild bees around still, so I imagine there are quite a few hives on the property that we don't know about.