A week ago, my rather healthy one year old hive was obviously crowded. In the late evening, a good 20k of them would hang outside all night:
Then, this past weekend, I decided it was time to relieve them of some of their honey stores.
I cracked the hive open and harvested 14 frames from the top two honey super boxes, and then I went inside to process them.
When I came back outside at around 5pm, the hive was mid-swarm: there was a tremendous roar and they were marching out the entrance and taking flight by the thousands.
In dismay, I watched as they flew to the closest neighbor's pecan tree and settled into a clump 60' up.
A couple of hours later, they left the pecan tree, and in the space of 30 minutes, they moved 2 houses down until they decided to cluster in a redwood tree, about 20' off the ground. And that's where they spent the night.
And the next day.
Until this evening, I decided they were coming back home with me.
The 100 year old lady whose backyard they were in gave me the go-ahead to try to get them down. With a ladder, ropes and pruners, I was able to cut and lower two branches into a large waiting cardboard box.
They remained very docile even as they were jostled about.
Now they are in a box in my backyard with a screen over the top to keep them from overheating.
Tomorrow morning will be urgent with the acquiring and preparing of brood boxes.
And then I will have three colonies of bees.
After picking up and assembling new frames, I spent the morning attempting to coax the box-o-bees to walk out of the box and over to the new hive.
They didn't willing do it. Instead, the scouts left to do their scouting and everyone else remained calm and clumped in the box.
Which sent me to the internets to discover the right way to do it: you build a ramp to the entrance, dump the bees out on a sheet draped over the ramp and... away they (should) go.. they should just march up the ramp.
I dumped a few out. And they did nothing.
So, I did the obvious and quick thing: I opened up the top of the hive, removed the frames, and took out the bee-covered branch segments from the box and shook them down into the hive.
Apparently, I was successful in dumping the queen in, as the rest finally decided to walk up the ramp and in.
Three hours later, we have this scene:
I'm a little concerned that so many remain outside. I hope they are not considering swarming again.
More troubling is that the old hive from which they swarmed, which is about 20 feet away, is having small battles with incoming (now) foreign bees. I've never see this violent protection behavior before, but I've added the entrance reducer so that there is less surface area for the old hive to propect from the much more numerous new hive population.