Chasing Bees And Climbing Trees

When I’m not making tui feeders or pottering in the veggie garden I really enjoy spending any spare time, not that I have much working with the bees. Upon acquiring our first bee hive two years ago I knew that it would become an addiction and now I can’t imagine not having them around.

Keeping bees is more complicated nowadays since the discovery of the varroa mite in New Zealand in April 2000. Bee keepers need to be on the look out for diseases such as American foulbrood as it can also decimate bee colonies. These pests and diseases just add to my motivation to look after the bees because without human intervention they will not survive.

When I see the bees going about their business as I mow the lawn or weed the garden I experience a pleasant sensation that all is well with the world. About 10 days ago whilst gazing in the direction of our hives from my work shop this same sensation eluded me as the sky was black and amass with bees …

Yes they were our bees!

I rushed through the house towards Fraser’s room shouting “Fraser the bees are swarming … the bees are swarming” He was in a deep sleep due to a long night at AUT finalising his end of year assignments.

“Quick Fraser get up the bees are swarming and I need you to hold the ladder”. All I heard was a disgruntled moan as I turned to leave.

A few minutes later I’m checking out the size of the swarm.

It was rather precarious up the ladder so I decided the safest and easiest option was to cut the branches and then shake the bees into a box once back on the ground. Not sure how ACC would view this sort of activity, they’d probably suggest I check with OSH before doing anything further … yeah right.

It proved to be a large swarm and after holding the ladder Fraser was “sufficiently relaxed” to take these shots from what he felt was a safe distance. This despite my reassurances that the bees wouldn’t sting him.

Two days after these photos were taken we were back on the job collecting another swarm. This one was smaller and more difficult to collect as it was higher up than the first and almost beyond reach.

To put it mildly, standing and balancing on the third rung down from the top of the ladder was hair raising.

These bees shown above had settled on the tree trunk so shaking them off was not an option therefore I was restricted to using a bee brush. A good number of them fell directly onto me and there were bees that found their way inside my veil and down my shirt. I was far more concerned about falling from the ladder than by being stung. You’ve gotta like bees to be engaging in these dare devil type antics.

The photo below shows bees that re swarmed earlier that same day. Recapturing these was easy as it was just a matter of shaking them into a box.

Eventually most of the wayward bees ended up where I wanted them.

Settled into their new home the bees were happy and so were we. Another successful round up.

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