Swarm in Kanawha City

The kids headed off with Momaw and Granddad last night so Emily and I planned to grab a bite to eat and then go pick blackberries.  Literally, as we were walking out the door, the metro emergency center called and said there was a swarm of bees up in a tree in Kanawha City, a section of Charleston near where I work.  I looked at Emily and she rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Fine, go get your bees.”  Obviously, she wasn’t thrilled but she agreed to ride along.  She’s never been on a swarm call with me before so this was sure to be fun!

We drove to Kanawha City and found the home owner out in her yard looking up in a tree.  I knew we had the right spot right away.  We chatted for a bit about how her Dad had bees.  It’s interesting but it seems like almost everyone over the age of 60 once had a family member who had bees.  It’s such a shame that there are so very few beekeepers left and even fewer under the age of 65.  Anyhow, there was indeed a small swarm of bees about 8 feet up in the oak tree in her front yard.

I brought a ladder and I always carry pruners on these calls.  I donned my suit for proper protection (note the crocs on my feet!) and headed up the tree.  Swarms that are close to the ground often can be brushed into a hive box with a gentle hand (or shook into the box with a rough hand).  Swarms in trees are a little different.  When possible, I like to trim the branch on which they hang and bring them down to a manageable height, i.e. the ground.  I clipped the branch with the bees and gently laid the small branch into the hive (I removed 4 frames to make room) once back on the ground.  Sometimes I shake them into the hive so I don’t need to add the branch but this one seemed to fit without shaking.

I just stop up the entry to the hive and put a strap around the hive to travel.  As I mentioned, Emily was with me and not too keen on riding in the van with bees.  I don’t officially recommend this to anyone, but I have found that riding with bees in the car is actually a little easier than riding with kids.  The kids fight and yell and can’t do anything but stare at each other making menacing faces.  Bees, on the other hand, don’t care a lick about me but prefer to hang around the back windows hoping to find an escape.  I have never been stung while carrying bees in the van.  But, don’t try it at home…

The swarm was pretty small and will not likely be worth much alone.  I have a few hives that are very full of bees so I will add a few frames of bees from those hives to the new swarm to make a good, strong colony.  With any luck, they will grow into a stronger colony, ready for the honey flow next spring!

Other swarms

17 thoughts on “Swarm in Kanawha City

  1. Picking up swarms is my favorite part of beekeeping…so I am absolutely on call with the city to pick up swarms!

    Locals can call me too!

  2. Notice that although Warren had on a bee suit, there are no pictures of his wife in a bee suit. This is where my anxiety over riding in a van full of bees originated. However, I have to admit that he is right – they weren’t interested in me at all.

  3. Alan Hughes told me that you were an interesting fellow. He did not say anything about bee wrangling. I live in Cross Lanes and debate about whether I would like to get into beekeeping. My honey guy here in Cross Lanes is a VERY senior citizen. What are start up costs like? We raised bees in Greenbrier Co when I was a kid. I would be grateful for any advice.

  4. Emily – you are a trooper…good thing I didn’t take any pics of you hiding behind the old woman who owned the tree!

    JBlank – start up costs vary a lot depending mostly on how you get the bees. Once you have bees, the only thing you really need is a veil. Check out http://www.buzz-honey.com to see some of the stuff I use. It’s easy to get talked into getting a ton more stuff than you need too. Anyhow, email me (see contact page) and we can have a discussion.

    YD – Emily is so mean to me!

    ETW – she did great…swarms are actually about the most docile that you will find bees (but still don’t mess with them) so she had little to worry about!

    Kris – it’s funny…the first time I did it, I drove in my bee suit. That was def more dangerous than just riding plain-clothes!

    Loretta – I treat my girl real special!

    Ceecee – bees are romantic…what are you getting at?

    Caprilis – you can mix bees sometimes. Bees that are on brood comb (baby bees in the making) are docile and don’t give off the “alert”. Honestly, bees don’t even have to be on brood comb but it works better. They tend to stay while non-brood-working bees will go back to the parent hive if it’s close. If you just stacked two hives on top of each other, you would have a battle though…

    Dora Renee – allergic folks should def avoid the hobby of course. I don’t get stung a lot when I am being careful but it still can happen for sure…

    Caprilis -afternoon cocktails never hurt anyone…

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