Deb has been helping me document my experience with bees since nearly the beginning. She came along on my second swarm capture and was wowed by it. She also helped me with hive inspections and honey harvest. Now she's got her urban homestead with greenhouse and chickens. Of course she wanted bees, too!
She and her honey, Erik, had just finished up their beekeeping class with the Backyardhive.com folks when I called them with news of a swarm at the community gardens where a couple of friends have plots. Yay friends! We arranged to meet there at 6 a.m. Deb and Erik with their brand-new bee jackets and me with my swarm gear.
The bees were clustered on a tree branch about 6 feet off the ground. Because it was early and cool, they were in a nice tight bunch.
The 6-foot ladder we had was a little too tall to hold the box with enough room for branch-shaking, and the 4-footer too short, so Deb opted to hold the box as Erik shook the branch.
And shook it some more.
Things started to go south after Deb set the box down and discovered that some bees had gotten into her sleeves and under her pants cuffs. She started to panic a little (can you blame her?), and got stung a couple of times on her ankle.
She and I walked far enough away that she could get the bees out, while Erik stayed and tried to herd more bees into the box, which he put on the taller ladder. But it wasn't strapped down. You can guess what happened.
When Deb and I got back, there were bees all over the sheets we'd laid out, but still quite a few in the box.
It seemed best to go have breakfast and let the bees sort themselves out. Which they did.
When we returned, the queen was in the box with the bulk of her court.
Erik gently wrapped the box in sheets and carried it to the car.
At home Erik shook the bees into their waiting hive. Now, nearly two weeks later, Deb reports that the bees have a goodly amount of comb built out and are active and happy.
I have video of the whole thing, but it's quite long, so Deb or I will need to edit it down, and I'll let them decide if they want to post it. (To Erik's credit, he did not swear when the box fell. At least not audibly!)