A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a local tree company. They were called to one of our parks to cut up a limb that had fallen from a tree. They claimed there was a "swarm of bees" on the limb. Then the parks department called me. Of course, it was "huge, about the size of a basketball" which is very unusual for this time of year. And for the record, honeybees that actually do swarm this time of year, rarely live through the winter.
Although this probably looks like a swarm of bees to a non-beekeeper, it is NOT a swarm. It is a hollow limb, that had a hive of honeybees living in it. The limb fell from the tree. I brushed these bees away to see what was going on, and there was just one layer of bees on the knot of the tree, which was their entrance. However, the tree and park people did the right thing by getting a hold of a beekeeper. And if you ever come across something like this, call your local Extension office. They usually have names of several beekeepers they can call, right Jeannie!
I asked what they thought it weighed and they said probably 100 pounds. They loaded it in the truck with a bobcat that had a big teeth looking contraption on it. (Sorry I have very few photos. I couldn't take pictures and work)
I drove through town with this in the back of the truck! A truck that has been wrecked and we do not drive very far off the farm. I had intentions of giving the hive to a fellow beekeeper who lost his hives last winter. He came over to get it, and him and My Shug could barely move it! They estimated it weighed 300 pounds! So, after much thinking on what to do, My Shug got the tractor out (after mumbling something about Lucy and another fine mess I got us into!)
and we set the tree up end for end and I put a hive box on top of it, in hopes that the bees would work their way up into the hive body. I told the other beekeeper if it lives, and it's strong next spring, I will split it with him.
The bad thing was, when I first set it up, I didn't put anything between the hive body and the tree, which left the hive vulnerable to yellow jackets and hornets. It was awful! In my defense, I've never had a situation like this before and I was winging it every step of the way. I slept on it, and the next day realized my mistake.
So I took a piece of wood and screwed it to the opening of the tree, and I put an inner cover (hive cover that has a hole in the center of it) under the hive. So now, the bees can make their way from the tree to the hive and they only have one entrance to guard. I haven't seen any more yellow jackets or hornets hanging around. For these bees to survive, they will need to be fed all winter long, and even then it will be iffy if they survive.
I have several "needy" hives at the moment that will require extra work this winter. So when I got a call on Sunday asking me to come and get some bees, I thanked them but declined. I'm soft-hearted when it comes to trying to rescue them. I want them all to live. The reality is, they probably won't. And I'm out of equipment at the moment.
So there's the story of the "cute hive."