The Railway Terrace Honey Bees

It all started on Thursday 13th November 2014 when I received a telephone call from a very good friend informing me that some Honey bees are living in Cardiff and could do with re-homing.  Due to other work commitments, the soonest we were able to pay them a visit was on Monday 17th November 2014.

So we come to Monday 17th November 2014… and what a day this turned out to be…

I aimed to be there for around 1400hrs but I was then reminded about my Fracture Clinic appointment at 1630hrs.  So Kate and I arrived at the given address in Cardiff for noon and were greeted by the sight of a beautiful small colony that was in fact living approximately 7 foot up in a Blackthorn tree.  There was very little comb present and even less honey stores were seen. The comb was built around some crossing branches which gave them much needed stability, but also required us to give careful consideration to aid in removing these ladies.

The Railway Terrace Honey Bees

Our very good friend who gave us the call initially was also there with us as we thought he would appreciate the opportunity to see them be re-homed.  We chatted and quickly decided the best course of action for them; this involved using a step ladder, a pair of tree loppers and the remainder of our beekeeping retrieval equipment.

We began with a gentle pruning of the immediate area beneath the colony, being very careful not to disturb any branch which was attached to the comb.  There was a lot of banter flying around due to my pruning techniques, as Kate and our friend are both highly trained in horticulture.  After some 10 minutes we were ready to focus on the Honey bees themselves, with one person on a step ladder and the other cutting through the remaining branches which would release the comb and let them fall into the waiting container.

It went absolutely perfectly, the Honey bees were placid and now inside the container, I placed the lid of the container on, to seal them inside.  All in all it took some 20 minutes before we were loading the car up with our kit, saying our goodbyes and were on our way back home.

It was a leisurely 45 minute return drive home when I decided to drive my car into the paddock where the bees were going to live from now on.  I decided on driving into the paddock for a reason.  Only 2 weeks earlier, whilst climbing over the wall into the paddock I ended up with a very badly broken little finger when a piece of the wall fell off (you can read about that little adventure here), plus my car is a 4×4 so there should be no problem… Or so I thought…

The transfer of Honey bees into their brand new Warre beehive was as simple as it comes.  We set the hive in its final resting place and placed a Queen excluder between the two boxes to ensure that when we placed the bees inside, the Queen, if she is in there, would not be able to leave.  The Queen excluder will be removed as soon as I seen signs of comb building, which means that they are happy to settle.

We removed their very empty and very wet comb (from the recent rainfall) from the Honey Bees and lowered the ladies into the Warre beehive on top of the Queen Excluder.  We had been anticipating the arrival of these little ladies for a few days, some food and top bars which had wax starter strips was on hand to complete their rehoming.

After the food was placed on and the hive was closed up, it was time to leave the paddock and get ready to go to my Fracture Clinic appointment which was fast approaching.  So we got in my car and began to drive the long way around the paddock.  It was an unusual but great experience driving through the paddock which was dying back from a year’s growth.  Earlier in the summer the plants were at least 7 foot tall and resembled a thick jungle.

Just as we came to the exit the paddock, my 4×4 car lost some grip; in fact it lost its entire grip.  I tried to reverse, nope that didn’t work, OK well lets go forward again, nope not that way either. There was a lot of laughter coming from within the car at this point as my co-conspirator Kate, often has a joke that my car is not a real 4×4 as there is no differential lock. We quickly decided to go and get her much larger 4×4 which does have a differential lock to pull me out.

Moments later the “Deli” as it is affectionately known arrived in the paddock to rescue my wonderful car.  We lined the Deli up in front of mine, got the ropes ready, attached the vehicles together and began to move my car from its muddy resting place.

This lasted all of about 5 seconds before the Deli too succumbed to the muddiness of the paddock, even with its alleged all singing, all dancing differential lock.

Boy oh boy did we laugh, both of our cars which should easily manage this type of ground, didn’t.  After several attempts of moving the cars we went back to the house to see if any assistance was available.

Two 4x4s stuck in the paddockThe cavalry arrived… Hooray… With a look of disbelief upon his face, as to how we managed to end up here.  There were some more attempts of moving either vehicle before the camera came out and the photographs were made.  My Fracture Clinic appointment was now looming, with just 30 minutes to go, so we decided to let the muddy quagmire win this battle for today, but we were determined to win this war on mud.

Thankfully there was another car for me to use to visit the hospital.  Upon my arrival I was sent to the X-ray department to have another X-ray.  There were 4 people in front of me also waiting, so I was anticipating a lengthy wait.  Fortunately for me, when the next named was called, all 4 of these people stood up and headed towards the relevant room.  I immediately noticed the subtle uniforms and handcuffs restraining one of them.  So there were 3 prison guards escorting a prisoner for whatever fracture that he has received.

After my X-ray and meeting with the Consultant to see how my broken little finger is healing, I headed to Waitrose to collect a couple of items for the household from my mentally noted shopping list.  Once inside Waitrose I noticed that my shopping list had completely disappeared from my memory, so I took a phone out of my pocket and called home to ask for some assistance in remembering.

Once the items were again made known to me, I went to get a trolley, returned to the store to collect the items and headed to the till to pay up.  Once at the checkout, it now quickly became apparent that the money that was in my pocket was not there now…

This induced a panic of searching all of my pockets but to no avail, even though I checked each pocket several times.  The checkout assistant advised me to ask at the Customer Service desk to see if anything was handed in.  I retraced my footsteps through the store before heading to the customer service desk to ask if any money had been kindly handed in.  I explained how much was missing and what notes they were, and then I was given the fantastic news that a very kind hearted citizen had not chosen to keep the money for themselves.  Phew… I was most certainly thankful for such honesty.

The following day, both vehicles were still being held captive by the mud.  In the meantime our friendly local farmer offered to help out; therefore we were waiting of the arrival of a tractor.

The following day I went to my car to collect something while I noticed that the ground was slightly firmer.  This urged me to see if my car would now move, and in fact it did.  It drove directly out of the paddock to my amazement; this encouraged me to try the Deli as well.  Well that didn’t go quite so well and the Deli remained there until the following day when the farmer arrived with his tractor.

A whole week has gone by since we first got stuck and now I have sad news to report.

I checked upon the Railway Terrace Honey bees this morning and found a lifeless hive.  This is always a sad time for me finding dead honey bees.  We tried our very best for them, providing them with a home, with plenty of food and with the best of intentions it seems that they were beyond any help.

I know that they would not have survived if they remained in the tree at Railway Terrace, but I thought that maybe, just maybe we would be able to help enough so that they could see another season.

Sometimes no matter what we do… nature calls

The Compost Bin Honey Bees

This story begins with a message asking me to get in contact with them as there are Bees in their friends compost bin.  After an initial chat about what the bees look like, and how many of them there are, it was decided to pay them a visit.

The Compost Bins Honey Bees

On a Monday afternoon around 1515hrs we arrived at their address to see for ourselves who was living inside the Compost bin.  It was in fact a colony of Honey Bees and we decided to ask some further questions, to ascertain exactly what we were dealing with.  The family moved into their home in January 2014 with Bees already inside the compost bin.  In around March / April there was a lot of activity with at some point a swarm leaving the compost bin.  This reduced the amount of Honey bees and gave the residents some piece of mind.

The family had a second child recently and were a little anxious of raising a young child whilst living with Honey Bees in their garden, which is why I was contacted to remove them.

As I looked at the compost bin, the honey bees appeared active and healthy for a warm October day. The lid of the compost bin was shut, I was unable to see how big and what condition the colony was without removing the lid and disturbing them.

With the honey bee retrieval equipment at the ready, I turned the lid and carefully removed it.  Wow was the first word that sprung to mind at the initial sight of the colony.  The colony had made some beautifully shaped comb and they had a placid personality.

I managed to place the lid upside down on the floor so we could begin the removal of this colony.  We started by removing all of the honey comb and placing it inside a container, there was some honey inside the comb, but not enough for them to survive until the following spring.

Once the entire comb was removed, I shook the remainder of the Honey Bees into the container.  It was now time to retrieve the Honey bees from the compost bin, therefore it was time to use the bee vacuum.

I turned to the container which now contains the comb and honey bees.  I placed on a lid that had been adapted to take two vacuum hoses and prepared to remove them.  I turned on the vacuum and began sucking up any honey bees found on the compost bin and us, this process did not take long to complete and we were finished and ready to pack up and return home.

After a 45 minute return drive home, all that was left to do was to rehome this colony into their new home, which is my demonstration Warre, so after a little setting up, the beehive was ready.

I placed a queen excluder between the 1st and 2nd box which would contain the Queen inside the beehive.  Comb with honey stored inside was separated from the empty comb and placed on top of the queen excluder to give the colony their honey back to them.  The bees inside the container were then poured into the beehive before we closed up the hive and walked away.

The Compost bin Honey Bees new home

We just have to wait in anticipation to see how these honey bees take to their new Warre beehive.  As long as we see some new comb being built under the top bars, with Honey bees continuing to live inside, hopefully, just hopefully we will see them in the Spring of 2015 ready for another year.

This is one way to get Honey Bees out of a tree…

This story begins at Gate 1K in Edinburgh airport awaiting to board a plane to Bristol.  We were on our way back home after visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which by the way I must say is amazing, what a great city Edinburgh is, I would recommend you visit…

So anyway back to the airport, I mean story…  Whilst stood amongst fellow passengers at Gate 1K, I turned my telephone on to check for messages.  A new message arrived, it was from my answer phone…

The message went along the lines of: Bees in a tree! Need removing! Would you help?

Of course, I just had to call them back to get more details on how I could help.  I arranged to visit them the following morning to fix this little quandary, and boy it was a spectacular quandary.

Workmen carrying out tree maintenance cut through a branch of an Ash tree, with unexpected consequences.  Honey bees began flying around in distress which was the reason for my presence here.  The Ash tree had enormous hollows throughout most of its trunk and branches, living inside approx 15 – 20 feet up inside a branch, were a large colony of Honey bees.  Due to the branch being removed the previous day, the bees retreated to the hollow trunk as a lot of their comb fell to the ground along with the branch.

After careful thought, these Honey bees could not continue to live inside the tree successfully, they would not of been able to survive the winter and spring due to the amount of comb that was lost at this time of the year (23rd August), their home is now compromised, so the threat of robbing, exposure to the elements or attack was extremely high and and therefore they needed to be re-homed urgently.  Some scratching of the head was required to figure out how to remove and re-home them as gently as possible.  I did not want to do this to them but it was their only chance.

The re-homing part of this for me is easy, get one of my bee-homes and insert bees, however on this occasion removing them was going to be a challenge.  Due to their location within the tree, it required cutting them out.  Thankfully the workmen who found them the day before were on hand to assist with this part.  

The Ash was felled expertly and lowered ever so gently to the ground.  Now that this was on ground level, it made life easier for me to get eyes on and access to them.  I tried to get a closer look inside but more surgery of the Ash was required.   It required drilling deep holes into the tree at certain points, which allowed me to ascertain where the colony was, which in turn allowed me to inform the workman where to cut.  

Time to give the bees a hand job…

When I said “it’s time to give the bees a handjob”, the two workmen found this extremely funny.  In fact this was the second time that I had them laughing a lot.  The first time came when I moved my bee collection kit box to a safe place just behind my car, shortly afterwards I needed to move my car and so jumped in and reversed over the box destroying it into many pieces, many laughs were had at my expense.

After some fine cuts with the chainsaw, I was now able to get my hands inside and retrieve some of the comb and transfer some of the ladies into a box for transporting.  Here I was able to see properly the extent of the ladies home, comb with brood, all stages of bee development and honey all stored in substantially tough comb, which tells me that they were living here for some time.

In total it must of took 3 and a half hours to get them from there.  

The plan was to leave them to settle down for the afternoon and return that evening to collect them.  However in the adjacent field were rather large cows, bulls and sheep, who were beginning to get curious as to our presence in the field.  Trusting these livestock was an issue, so it was decided to transport the bees sooner rather than later.  So after collecting all of the remaining comb and as many bees as possible, we headed off into the distance.

We drove the few miles through the rather bumpy lanes on our way to the main road, incredibly carefully and slowly.  This was to not disturb the bees any further as there were tens of thousands of bees in the boot of my car, inside a container while some other honey bees were taking the journey with me but sitting on the dashboard and looking out of the window listening to a bit of Mumford and Sons.  
Upon a sharp left corner, a Mercedes car and my car came head to head abruptly.  I was not speeding but it still required me to put my brakes on hard and fast, giving thanks to my slow speed and the ABS for not crashing.  Another car was behind me so the Mercedes had to wait on this corner for us to pass.  The driver put his window down and gave me a disgusting look of anger which quickly changed to looking completely puzzled as he noticed my choice of clothing at that time, which was a bee-keepers suit with the veil up.

Later that evening the lovely honey bees were re-homed and are now living in one of my bee-homes until a discussion is had to determine their final resting place.  At least they are now living in a safe place being well looked after.

I cannot imagine the stress that they went through the past few days.  I feel sad, almost remorse that I needed to destroy an item of such real outstanding beauty, another amazing example of Honey bees living naturally with no help from humans, providing some much needed proof to question the current scepticism of some critics.  From this destruction and death though, comes life.  Although their situation was dire, they have been given another opportunity. 

Even though previously I felt sad about their situation, I now feel joy, I feel pride and a great sense of achievement.  
I feel this because I build beehives, I build bee-homes  I build beautiful homes for beautiful bees, people get in touch with me to purchase a bee-home or to inform me of bees living in an unsuitable location.  It is a great feeling, knowing that I’m extending life by giving a lovely colony of honey bees another chance of survival, albeit through delivering homes, training or education.   

The episode confirmed once again my inner compulsion to work for them and I will continue to do everything in my power to aid our bees, regardless of where they come from, their colour or their previous history.  I genuinely struggle to find adequate words to portray the consuming awe I feel when spending time with them and I feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to be able to spend some of my life making friends with our honey bees.  

On this occasion, even though it was me who decided whether they had a next chapter in life, it was me who was disturbing them, it was me who moved them by hand.  The fact is… that they still allowed me into their home, they did not attack me, they allowed me to work at the best of my ability, to be able to improve their situation.

For that humble bee, I salute you

Resistance is futile Gwenyn Mel 2…

This morning I returned to the workshop to check on the previous days swarm from Gwenyn Mel 2.  I peeked inside the window and was greeted by the sight of a mass of bees… Excellent… I thought, they like their new home…

At this point I decided to phone my Warré beekeeping friend and guru that is David Heaf.  We were have a nice chat about the bees and other bee related lines of conversation when I noticed that the bees in the Warré hive had decided that the Warré was just not quite adequate enough for them.  Hundreds, then thousands of them were pouring out of the hive and getting ready to swarm again.  Thankfully I was speaking with David who gave me short and simple advice to fix this little quandary.

Time to don the suit and gloves again and get the box ready to collect the absconded bees.  Without hesitation they went into the same field as yesterday, probably ready to have a laugh at my expense watching me clamber over that fence again.  This time though they decided to go that little further and thankfully for me settled on some ferns about 3 foot off the ground around 200 metres away in the next field over again. 

I really did not want to lose this prime swarm from Gwenyn Mel 2, they were a large swarm who have worked wonders so far this year, and as it happens, came from the swarm that I collected last August 29th 2012 which thinking back now was quite a memorable day.

Well the bees are now in the box, time to return them immediately to their Warré with one slight modification.  Once again the bees has changed my plans for the day but I intended this to be as swift as it could possibly bee.

After another debacle, climbing over the fence, I headed straight for my workshop to collect a queen excluder.  The bees were placed nearby the hive while I got it ready for their arrival.  Time to remove the roof, quilt, top bar cloth and top bars and place all of it to one side, as I placed a queen excluder between the bottom box and next box up.  It is a somewhat surreal experience transferring bees from cylindrical container to a hive, literally pouring bees from one box into another and using a brush to gently persuade the others to go in also.

I returned the top bars, top bar cloth, quilt and roof as quickly as possible without causing more disruption to them.  The reason for the queen excluder this time it to prevent the queen passing through into the bottom box and absconding again, taking the rest of them for another adventure.  The queen excluder will stay in situ for a couple of days just to ensure that they decide to settle in this home, so they can make it their own.

After allowing them to settle down, the visible signs of the queen inside were becoming apparent, with bees heading into the Warré hive and bee bums raised in the air telling all others to head this way, excellent…

Time for reflection and calm now… 

So as I lay down beside them to watch them regain order from their adventure from the previous hour, I begin making films and taking more photos, not only for my memory, but also so that I can share my experiences with you, as I’m sure you want to have a small insight into our adventures.  

Hopefully my record of photos and films will inspire you or others to get involved with bees or maybe even help you one day if you so happen to bee in a similar situation yourself.  

Anyway, time now for me log off and have some nice happy dreams.


The swarmy ones

On Tuesday 16th July I was sat on the bench just outside my workshop taking in the view and enjoying a well deserved break.  There was beautiful sunlight and an overpowering heat from the sun, freshly picked radishes to munch on, horses to watch, birds to listen to and then there is a noise…

This noise was gradually getting louder as the time flowed on by me.  I looked up and there was the reason for this noise, it was my bees.  There must of been a few dozen of them flying around in patterns around 3 foot above my head, within a few minutes there were hundreds of bees and the noise was dominating more and more… Oh well break time is over…

I stood up and stepped towards the hive to see what was happening, it appeared that the ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2 were thinking about swarming.  Quickly I went to the workshop to retrieve my bee suit, gloves, a box and most importantly my phone, as I needed to make a quick phone call to cancel some work that I was expected to go to that afternoon and so that I could record this experience.

The sky in front of me was transforming before my very eyes, the previously mentioned hundreds of bees had increased to thousands, then increased to tens of thousands, honey bees were flying in amazing swirling patterns in the sky, the noise of their tiny wings flapping was inspiring, obviously my first thoughts were to record this experience and share it with you.

I was fully kitted out with suit and gloves with a phone recording some of the Honey bee adventures. 

Ever so gradually they were hovering towards the hedge line nearby, so I clambered through the ditch to look into the next field to see the general direction that they were heading in.  Luckily for me they began to settle on a branch nearby, however to get to it was not going to be an easy task.  So after moving along the hedge line I noticed a potential way through into the adjacent field, but it did require climbing through a heavily overgrown ditch with stingy nettles, brambles and a temporary wooden barrier.

They were only 10 metres from their hive, but it must of took me 10 minutes just to get to them.  More filming of the swarm was required, my senses were in overdrive, being in awe of the noise that was being produced by the bees, awe of the sight of tens of thousands of bees flying around me, again in these amazing swirling patterns.  However I was there to collect the majority of the bees, place them into the box and return them to another home made by me.

Whilst waiting for the bees to settle down, I began to struggle with the heat from the sun, it was 1430hrs or 2.30pm on a cloudless, scorcher of a day, sweat was coming from parts of my body I didn’t realise sweated.

After waiting for them to settle down and recording their activities on film, it was time to move them back towards their new home.  After another fence climbing expedition and walking an incredibly long way around I was back on familiar ground.  I decided to settle them down on the lawn under the shade from an apple tree.  The box was turned upside down with an entrance made for them to return, as they all settle back down, then a tarpaulin sheet was placed over the top of the box to exclude as much light as possible.  They finally calmed down around 1715hrs or 5.15pm, just enough time for me to change attire and drive to the reservoir to do a spot of cooling down in a kayak.

The plan was… To leave them inside the box to calm down, return after kayaking around 2100hrs 9pm to transfer them into a new home.  This time my accommodation choice for them had changed, previously they had lived inside one of my National Beehives, now however they were to be moved into my brand new and sparkling Warré Hive.  

After some assistance from a fantastically, patient friend, we managed to move them into their new Warré and left them alone in peace to adjust to their new surroundings.  

All that is left to do tonight is, return my friend home, and for me I must return in the morning to check on the lovely ladies.  TIme for bed I think.

Nos da, cysgu yn dda

And so the swarming season begins for GlastonBees.

Today (Wednesday the 5th of June 2013) I was telephoned and informed of a swarm of Honey Bees at a residential garden in the urban jungle that is Cwmbran.  Whilst talking on the telephone I was given a telephone number of who to call and an address.  Yeyyy… Honey Bees…

So after calling the number I arranged to be there within the hour to re-home a colony of Honey Bees.  Firstly I needed to visit my workshop, collect my bee keeping suit and other paraphernalia   Lots of excitement was beginning, thinking of collecting some Bees, however there was also anxiety… because last time I collected Honey Bees it was not a performance I would like to repeat.

A little while later I arrived at the house, pressed the door bell and waited for a response.  A gentleman answered the door and we proceeded to go straight into the back garden to get a look at where exactly these ladies have settled, thankfully for me (and them) they were about head height in an easy to reach bush.

Now to my plan of attack, no that is a bad choice of words… My approach goes a little something like this, in order of priority: 

Put bee suit on;
Take some photos;
Use loppers to prune the bush;
Take some photos;
Position empty box underneath colony;
Use loppers to cut branch and lower colony into box;
Stand back, and wait to confirm that the Queen is inside the box;
Take some photos and video;
Pack up my belongings;
Try and get a cuppa tea;
Confirm that the Queen is inside and collect as many workers as possible;
Load the car;
Transport the Bees to their new home.

Amazingly and wonderfully my approach worked perfectly without a hitch (as if it would happen any other way), it did help that I noticed the neighbour set up a video camera and I didn’t fancy them taking £250 from You’ve been Framed.  Now that the ladies are in the car, it is time for us to take a trip to their new home.  It was a lovely 17 or something like that mile journey in the car listening to a bit of Muse on the way (I think the ladies like Muse, especially “New born” and “plug in baby”) with the air-con on the lowest setting.  

Well the ladies couldn’t of picked a finer day to be re-homed, glorious sunshine, warmth and the fact that I had some spare time.  So the bee suit went back on, I set the hive up and began to move the ladies into their new but temporary home.  After some 40 minutes or so they had settled down enough to walk near them without the suit on, with pride oozing from me from such a professional, without incident swarm collection.

The next chapter for these lovely ladies begins this weekend or early next week as they get moved into their brand new, sparkly home (it wont actually be sparkly).  I have been asked to build a Warré Hive for a customer, so looking forward to completing this type of hive and move the ladies into their final home for them.  

Lets wish for a fantastic summer of weather so these and all pollinators have the best possible chance of reproducing, pollinating and surviving until next year.

An idiot’s guide to collecting a swarm of Honey Bees…

Natural beauty…

29th August 2012 

For some time now I have been on the lookout for some Honey bees.  This generally involves a lot of waiting, daydreaming and luck.

Well my luck had changed.  On Wednesday 29th August I got a phone call to let me know of a swarm of Honey bees in a residential garden.  So I downed tools, got my kit, jumped into the car and drove “whilst adhering to the speed limit at all times” and made my way to meet the owner of the house to collect the house keys from them at their work place.

There was a little drive to the house which was quite easy to find but my mind was thinking on what to expect.  I have collected a few swarms before but always assisted by somebody.  This time I was going solo.

So I arrived at the house and immediately went in search of the bees, Ahh excellent… there they are… 8ft up in an apple tree, in the back garden.  They looked beautiful, inspiring, too beautiful to remove in fact, but I was there to remove them nevertheless.  I returned to my car and got all of the equipment needed to retrieve them such as: 
  • 1 x cardboard box
  • 1 x step ladder
  • 1 x bee suit and pair of gloves
  • 1 x mobile telephone (with camera built in)
The colony looked so beautiful in fact that I decided to get closer and take some snaps before I moved them.  So before I got into my full body bee suit, the ladder got put up close to them, then I climbed onto the second rung and was within 2 foot of them.  I took a few pictures and just watched them for a couple of minutes as this was truly a special moment for me.  They were so placid, not a single bee giving any attention to me, I was at one with some Honey bees. 

Upon closer inspection it became apparent that this was not a recent swarm as I was told on the telephone.  This was an established colony with food stores, brood and plenty of comb.

Ah, at this point I have remembered that I have forgotten to mention the weather that day, which was drying up after heavy showers.

As I was moving on the ladder, my wet boot, on the wet rung of the ladder slipped and I lost my balance.  My natural automatic response was to hold onto something to steady myself, this just so happened to be a branch of the tree, naturally… 

Now, what can only be called a “mass of bees” fell from the colony and landed on me; in fact they landed on my head, neck and shoulders.  Suddenly this once placid colony had thought I was there to do them harm.

Oh crap!!!

Luckily my automatic responses kicked in pretty quick and I jumped off the ladder, brushed the majority of the bees off with my hands, and headed inside the house and shut the door behind me to reduce the amount of bees following me.  Then I realised that there were still bees on me.
“Ow, ow, ow stop stinging me” I yelled. 

There were quite a few bees stuck in my hair who thought their best course of action was to sting my head and in doing so committing suicide.

Now frantically brushing bees off me, I realised that I have been stung many, many times, as in dozens, to be honest I wasn’t counting as my chin, cheeks, arms, neck and head were stung multiple times.  I began to think

“I have never been stung this many times before”,
“How will my body cope”,
“I’m here on my own”,
“Where’s my phone if I need to call someone? Oh crap it’s outside on the floor”.

A few minutes later all of the bees were off but I was still buzzing, literally…

The bee suit was now on; all zips were triple checked to ensure no more stings.  I was sweating, pumped on adrenalin but there was still a job to do.

So I watched them for a little while and they all returned to the colony and everything looked normal again.  This time, armed with a bee suit, gloves and cardboard box, I retrieved my mobile phone and returned to the second rung of that ladder to begin to collect the swarm.

The sweat was pouring out of me, but I managed to transfer 75% of the bees and their comb into the cardboard box.  I rested the box on the ground and went back inside for 5-10 minutes to see if I had got the queen and to let them settle down. 

All of their comb was kept and returned to them in a new home

Here is when I phoned a friend to let them know what has happened, after reliving my version of events to them I was greeted with hysterical laughter and some concern, albeit through laughter. 

After the phone call ended I returned outside to see what was going on.  There were still 75 – 80% of the bees and their entire comb in the box but there were still stragglers on their original position.  I saw some signs that showed me that the queen was in fact inside the box so after a couple more attempts to collect the remainder of the bees, I packed my stuff up and headed back to the car.

It was an interesting drive back to this person’s place of work, some of the bees decided to stay on me personally for our journey in the car.  Others helped me change gear by resting on the gear stick, some just stayed on the dashboard and enjoyed the view. 

I got out of the car and walked through a very busy outdoor shopping area whilst still wearing a beekeeping suit with approximately a dozen bees on me, it would not bee a surprise to you when I say that I got an unusual, retreating response from the public.  The crowd just got out of my way, and at this point the funny side of the events were beginning to kick in.

I did offer some bees to members of the public but had no takers sadly, so after handing the keys back and saying the job was complete I headed back to my car with a few less bees still clinging onto me.

It was a pleasant drive back to the workshop, where their new home was waiting.  We arrived in one piece “whilst adhering to the speed limits at all times”.  They were now very pleasant bees to bee around as I transported them into a National bee hive.  I returned their comb that they built back to them as it did contain lots of brood and food, which is rightfully theirs.  After ensuring they were settled, I walked away to remove the bee suit.

Now I realised something interesting… the stings that I received in the garden, quite a lot of them were still in me.  So for some 40 minutes the venom sacks were still pumping venom into my body because when it actually happened I didn’t remove them all. 

So I searched for venom sacks and sat down and watched the little darlings for a little while before heading back to the car and going home.  Once home, I was greeted with some sniggers followed by some food. 

When replaying the events in my mind later that evening I thought:

“What a great story that is” 
“Someone will really enjoy listening to or reading that”

So to summarise, what have I learnt from today’s events? 
  • That I can cope with multiple bee stings, even though I do not wish to repeat these events again.
  • To wear non slip footwear.
  • That if somebody did assist me today, there would be a video on its way to “You’ve been framed” or “You Tube” as we speak.
  • To remove all venom sacks ASAP.
  • That my automatic responses are pretty dam efficient.
  • To wear a bee suit when getting close to a colony even though I think I’m safe, something may happen.
  • That I am able to see the funny side in a very unusual situation.
Lovely to see the Ladies coming home
It looks to me their new flyers are getting to grips with flying