Today was an exciting day for Emily. I had received a call for a swarm collection. It was the school holidays. And Emily was hanging off my arm begging if she could come.
Alexander caught wind of it too. But I could only take one. Alexander left it to Emily and decided to come next time. I suspect it may have been due to him realising he would have access to the Nintendo (we finally bit the bullet and bought them one for Christmas) without having a sister wanting to use it too!
The property was on a semi-rural block and the bees had taken shelter under a picnic bench near the kid's playground. The owners also agisted horses on the property so were keen to have them gone. They were not home at the time so it was the perfect opportunity to teach Emily how to box a swarm without the pressure of someone else (a stranger) watching.
We both suited up and checked each other to make sure we were all zipped up properly (because Not All Bee Suits are Bee Proof). She laid a sheet down under the bees and then got down on her hands and knees (another reason to have her do it!!) in preparation to sweep them down into the box she had placed underneath them.
We have had total fire bans here in the Shire of Dardanup for weeks now so there was no using the smoker. We brought with us a spray bottle with some diluted sugar syrup that I had left over after feeding some nucs, which she gently sprayed on them. This triggered them to clean themselves which helped to keep them in their cluster.
Ok Em. Now you need to gently put your hands around the bees and sweep them down into the box. But won't they sting my hands? No. They are too busy licking themselves clean.
With only a small amount of apprehension, she placed her hands around the cluster and swept the bees down into the box. Just like a pro! We knew we had the Queen. The bees had started to point their little bottoms in the air and fan their wings, letting the bees in the air know that the Queen was inside.
Then we had to close the box, clean up, and get them home.
When we arrived back at Carlaminda Emily placed a bag of sugar syrup under the lid and let them be. We will allow them to settle in before we do an inspection to assess their health and temperament.
Emily did a fabulous job and is now eagerly awaiting the next swarm call. She'll be mighty disappointed when I remind her that it is her brother's turn!
Helen Humphreys Passionate Beekeeper Trainer | Mentor | Producer