Swarm size can be extremely variable

If you have a look at my first blog post you will see a video showing a very large swarm but in this instance we have exactly the opposite situation with one of the smallest or the smallest swarm I have picked up to date.

It is likely that the queen is a new queen and that the hive she has come from has swarmed many times this season so few bees were able to accompany her.

At the time when I picked up this swarm i was unable to locate or see the queen but all the accompanying bees indicated there was definitely a queen amongst them.

After getting the swarm back to the Clarinda Community Garden bee yard I used by powers of Thievery to grab a frame of eggs and honey from one of our other strong hives to give this colony a reason to stay and to speed up the process of increasing their numbers.

As I like to make the bees create there comb from only a starter strip it would take this very small swarm a long time to get established without a little help.

Currently they are housed in a 4 frame Nuk box covered in Shade cloth to protect against another week of hot weather but I have almost completed  the making of a very nice thermally stable box made with 100mm timbers that will be just perfect for this little family of bees.

I waited a few days then went and checked in on the new swarm and finally I spotted the queen and she looked very happy and was going around inspecting the frame and I think she may already be laying eggs.

See if you can spot the queen in the pictures below and watch the video to see just how small this swarm was when I picked them up.



Taking out the stolen frame given to the super Small swarm from the nuk box with only 4 frames

Looking for the queen


Found the queen running around the bottom of the fram trying to avoid being seen

Can you see the Queen

 There she is

Easy to spot now

There she is with her big black spot easy to see


Just so you can see how small this swarm was I have placed my hand next to the bees on the wall



Our first box of bees

Collected in the Second week of October 2013

Those buzzing little buzzy bees had us watching them for hours. This first swarm remains as our pride and joy in the bee yard and is now housed in one of my deluxe hand crafted super insulated fantastically magical condominium super Beehives, and I think they like it as well!!!! J

Collected from a hanging branch was and remains one of the easiest swarm collections we have ever had. This led us to a series of false beliefs that have now been truly crushed.

Yes some swarms are nice and easy but most require a little jiggery pokery to get right combined with a little luck. Like the time I drove 40 minutes down to Frankston only to find the swarm had already left the property, “the one that got away” because I decided to have dinner before going down. Bees wait for no man.  I have the picture to prove it and yes it was a huge swarm enough to fill 2 or 3 boxes and dragging the tree branch amost to the ground.

The first hive looked very lonely when first placed in the new bee yard

Right from the beginning I wanted to try different things and we installed the first hive with round hole entrance’s instead of the standard platform entrance. Because there was no moisture escape opening in the bottom board this had the effect of holding moisture in the bottom of the box and before we knew what was happening the colony had swarmed 2 times before we changed the box to a standard opening and then later to the Delux hive where they are prospering very nicely indeed.


Our first box of bees all alone in the newly created bee yard


Mesmerised by the bees

The fasination had set in


Our new bee suits had arrived from China

New smokers and queen excluders from China

From then on we were willing to collect bees from almost anywhere

Yes even garbage bins

Compost bins

Seeing all the bees march into the box from a compost bin was just magic

With the bees doing there little wagle dance to tell the others where moving into a new home

Even before we collected our first swarm we started makeing and preparing for the time that would come.

Making frames in Huss's shed


 Making and painting hive lids and basses

We call it boxy

Freshly painted boxes

Huss hard at work making beehives  :)

Frame making and hive making is daily like for the buzzy beekeeper who wants to keep expanding the number of hives

Creativity of kids

Bee candle :)

Some old beeswax from a possom box hive collection


Bees love Compost Bins


So why do bees love compost bins

Bees are nature cavity dwellers and will live in any available cavity that offers them shelter from the elements

Compost bins are from there perspective a rather nice place to live

Unfortunately most compost bins will overheat in summer and freeze easily during winter so maybe its not such a good choice

This is a swarm that I collected earlier today and proved quite easy to get the bees into there now new home

A reasonable number of bees but becouse the owner had lifted the lid the day before and exposed the small amount of new brood they had it had all died.

As bees only live for 3 to 6 weeks or so in summer they have already lost 1 or 2 weeks in the compost bin and almost all these bees will be dead before the queen can raise a new batch of bees to replace them.  To help mitigate this problem I stole a frame of brood and honey from one of my other hives and placed it in the hive with the new swarm and this should allow the queen and the swarm to get back into productive breeding much quicker as bee numbers will not drop off so dramaticly and plenty of comb for her to lay eggs as the new bees emerge.


 Lid was removed and here they are haning to the comb on the lid

They had made some honey comb hanging from the lid

 Inside the compost bin bees had started making honey comb on the side of the wallnow detached from the lid

Inside compost bin close up

Ball of bees on lid had been exposed to the elements for a full day


Some video of the Compost bin and the swarm now in two locations


Honey comb was attached to both the wall and the lid of the compost bin and was probably 2 weeks old

I did find small amount of new brood that was about 5 days old



After getting the queen into the box i realised I had to creat a bridge to the new Hive entrance using my bee brush (It was all i had to use) and about halfway through the video you can see they made a collective decision to go for it and enter the box

I went off and had a coffee and 30 minutes later they were all in the box




Possom found dehydrated and near death


As i was leaving the bee yard I noticed a possom on the ground stumbling around in a complet daze as he had fallen out of the tree due to water dehydration in the extreem temperature of the day.

I went and found hime some water and he happyly accepted me tipping water all over him.

After a few hours my friend Raynard came and as he was still alive he managed to feed him some water through a staw and after about 10 straws of water he up and ran back into the trees

I took a little bit of video of the possom here so you can see for yourself that all animals were suffering not only my bees.



Here he is stumbling around next to the fence



I poored water on him and he simmply gave up trying to run and accepted all my efforts


I am ver happy he survived