Yesterday I was given two swarms of bees by a friend as he had a housing crisis in North Cambridge, i.e. all his hives were full! This was welcome news as I really wanted to get some bees into the newly remodelled observation hive on Trumpington Community Orchard.
I used a wheelbarrow and one of the sides of the hive that are removed to allow the bees to be seen through the glass windows as a ramp. If the bees are shaken out onto the ramp the theory says that they should walk up the ramp and into the hive. In my experience this works most of the time!
On this occasion it didn’t and most of the bees ended up hanging from underneath the ramp. This meant shaking them off onto a sheet, placing a box over the sheet and waiting for them to climb up into the box and then shaking them onto the ramp again.
This time they did walk up the ramp and into the hive. This natural instinct of the bees to walk upwards when they land on a surface is why beekeepers always (when they remember!) tuck their jackets into their trousers so the bees will not walk up inside their jackets! This observation hive unlike most of those on the market does not have frames taken from a National (the most common framed hive in England) inside it but will allow the bees to make completely natural comb. It is also large enough that the colony can expand enough to survive the winter. There is no access for the bee keeper to the inside of the hive to carry out manipulations, harvest honey/wax etc so the bees can show us how they go about things without my interference.
My other hives will continue to be managed to allow me to harvest both wax and honey and the wax will be used to make a skin balm by mixing it with organic olive oil and essential oils.
The second swarm has been given to a friend who has installed it in an HTBH on an organic farm in Lode near Cambridge.