B r e a k f a s t W i t h T h e B e e s

A sharing on the Birth, and Life

of a Honey Bee Colony at Grass Lake Sanctuary, grasslakesanctuary.org

Manchester, Michigan

Thursday, August 2, 2012

News Since April: Part Two: A New Swarm, A New Home

continued from part one...

Part Two -

same day I came upon and experienced the beautiful swarm at the sanctuary...

wondering where they would call home...

Last week I had taken a big wine barrel home to clean out.  It had been sitting by the cabin near the pond since the land was purchased several years ago.  I was hoping it could perhaps be turned in to a house for honey bees.  I hosed it out well, and let it dry in the sun, but did not work with it otherwise. I decided to bring it back to the land with me today thinking perhaps Tim could do some work on it with a new tool he has for routing out trees.
I pulled it out of my car and rolled it up close to where the bee swarm was gathering.
I had a "lid" for it - a circular piece of plywood that I found in one of the scrap piles from the work that was being done on the upper cabins.
Hmmmm.... ?
Bees....large swarm, .....20+ feet up in a tree, ...... old wine barrel, ......5 foot ladder from Janice's garage...
Some pieces were coming together, yet some pieces still missing.....
"I think I'll take a walk..."
"It is, what it is, of course..." I said to myself.
I wasn't going to fret over not having a "proper" home, but would just follow any threads from here...
I made some calls...
Joe was on his way to the land to do some work and he had an 8 foot ladder with him! "Okay - that would help".
Tamara and Tom just got home and were excited to come out and see the bee swarm... they're on their way,
"ok...great they were there last time and that seems right..."
on with my walk...
...came upon the scrap pile again, by the eloos...(outdoor luxury toilets) there were lots of cedar shingles in the pile... hmmmm....?
"these look useful... Im not sure for what, but I'll take them back with me".
Back at the barrel.
"These cedar shingles can be used to raise the floor in the barrel" The bees don't like too big of a space. That was one concern with the barrel - too big and drafty. The shingles were long enough to lay horizontally across, about 3/4 of the way down, so they made for a cozier space, they also served as a ceiling - under the plywood disc roof.
"okay - it just might work as a bee house"
Tamara, Tom, and Joe arrived.
Climb the ladder .....that was easy.... stand on top rung, reach up overhead to the branch with the loppers....
"aaahhhh..... I don't think I can do this, at least not without a third hand to hold the branch the bees are on to steady as I cut..."
" I think I can do it," I hear Tamara say from below...
Up she went, we all talked it through, I stood a length below her on the second ladder to help lower the branch once it was cut, and the guys steadied the ladders.
Some inbetween stuff happened , but miraculously the branch and the bees came down smoothly, and I have to say, Tamara's balance - standing, not on the top rung, but on the TOP of the 8 foot ladder, reaching overhead and cutting the branch and lowering it with a huge swarm of bees clung to it was truly an amazing feat, and miracle in itself!!
We both held an end of the branch and walked the bees over to the barrel. The swarm was so full along the branch that it had to be turned vertical over the hive so that when it was tapped, they all dropped into their new home - the barrel. So, I stood there - branch and bees in hand and did like before - tapped the branch actually on the cedar-board floor of the barrel and they all went in - well, many, perhaps even most went in - there were quite a few buzzing around the scene, before and after....
We showed them their entrance-way and then closed them up - laying the cedar shingles over the top of the barrel followed by the round disc plywood and some bricks on top to hold it in place.
I've read quite a bit about what bees like in homes, and gosh, I don't know, I have a lot of wonder about the barrel, in the condition it is in, but I trust in the bees. Perhaps it will be just a resting place for the night, or perhaps they'll find it quite suitable for their long term needs.
I feel blessed once again that they shared the sacred time of the swarm with us, that I was there to witness the energy of their take off from the mother hive (which by the way will continue on with a new queen - which is exciting as well).

to be continued in part three - next post

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