I had an adventure and a half here at home last week!
On Thursday afternoon I was doing some admin while a cake was in the oven, and I heard a sound that was a little like a faraway engine and I looked up to see a swarm of bees outside my bedroom window!
Please excuse the dramatics and heavy breathing, but whilst bees make me a little nervous a swarm scares the crap out of me!
So, within 20 minutes it was dead quiet and all the bees had moved in under the old water feature in our garden!
I immediately called our landlord to ask if she had someone on her list to do the removal and as she didn’t I got hold of my uncle D – he does bee removals and whenever possible he rehomes them in his hives rather than killing them.
He came the following afternoon with all his gear, and he and his assistant dismantled the fountain to vacuum up all the bees.
It took quite a while to get them all, and it was a good learning experience for Annie the SA Guide-dogs puppy-in-training and Wendal the SA Guide-dogs Service-Dog-in-training. Our Penny was not at all impressed with the “aliens” walking around in the garden though.
They actually found an old hive under the fountain, which is most likely why these ones moved in! We’ve been advised to dismantle the water feature entirely else we’ll have bees moving in under there again.
I learnt a few things from my uncle about bees too though and it was quite something. He called me on the Friday evening to let me know that the bees had been moved into one of his hives and he was sure they would be fine.
So how it works is like this.
When a hive starts getting overcrowded, the bees in charge of the eggs take about 20 larvae and separate them, feeding them royal jelly to make them queens. The first one to hatch kills the others – survival of the fittest and all that – and once the existing queen knows there’s a new one, she sends out a signal to the bees aged between 14 and 21 days and leaves the hive.
The reason for this is that these younger bees are still able to produce the wax needed to make the honeycomb, and she needs these young bees to make a new hive – as they get older they can’t make wax anymore and their jobs change to nursemaids, workers, cleaners and all sorts.
Isn’t that amazing!