bees, take 2

on our way back from new orleans two friends contacted me about a swarm that was fairly close to my house.  I didn't think I'd get back in time to collect it but finally got around to getting in touch with the woman who'd identified it Monday.  She let me know that it was still there and unclaimed last night, then that it was still there this morning.  I talked to my bee mentor about it, took notes on capturing a swarm and installing it, then waited to hear if they were still on their tree this morning.  They were, so after school called it, I gathered my veils, brush, and air-holed bankers box and went to capture a swarm (half praying that they'd flown away).
As you can see, they did not.  They were clustered around a young weeping willow tree in someone's front yard, almost unnoticeable from the house and from the street.  I brushed them into the box, sprayed them with sugar water, taped the box closed, and tried my hardest to keep them from getting out.  Once home, I put them in the shade and went inside to glaze for the day.  At 3pm, I went outside to check on them and saw that they had begun to let themselves out- chewing through the knife slits I'd made in the box, beginning to fly around and check out my open beehive.  By 4 pm, almost 100 had gotten out so I bit the bullet, suited back up, sprayed the inside of the hive with sugar water, and deposited them in the hive as quickly and efficiently (which should be translated: not very) as possible.  The lid to the box fell off and onto the ground and it got a little messy.  However, I did see the queen in the cluster that was on the lid (the queen looks like a cross between a cockroach and a bee- her abdomen is long and shiny and dark golden brown, while the bees look pretty short and fuzzy in comparison), so I grabbed it, shook it into the hive and did my best to close it up and get myself away from the (justifiably) angry cloud of bees.  I left one back bar open and the lid propped up so that the rest of the bees could smell the queen's pheromones and join her in the hive.


I took this photo after they'd been in for about an hour and weren't ready to chase me away anymore.  In another little bit I'll completely close them in- I closed up the entrance holes and will put the final bar back on and close the lid- for 24 hours and hope that they decide they like my hive.  In another week or two I'll start checking for brood.  After my hive died I ordered a package of bees that will arrive in May.  I haven't decided what to do with them yet- if I'll cancel the order, try to sell them locally, or add another hive, but right now they're insurance in case I only thought I saw the queen or they decide to abscond.

Still working on finishing my glaze load, but that will happen tomorrow.  I have three pitchers glazed and in the kiln already, and will top that with about 30 cups that are waiting patiently on my glazing table.  Today feels like it's been three full (but good) days rolled into one.

More pots and bees later, friends.