Another sunny day – they’re rare enough that we notice – and sudden squawking from the chickens around mid-day caught my attention, so I went to see what the fuss was about. As I approached the house, I heard a hum and had one of those moments: I know that noise... no... can’t be...
A swarm of bees flew round the corner, over my head and up towards the old cowshed.
It is years since I last saw one, and that was back when we kept bees ourselves. We had just returned from an outing, and there, above the garage, was a scene from a disaster movie. Or maybe a horror movie if you’re spooked by a two-meter-plus tornado of a few thousand bees above your head. Our actual reaction went something like WTF...? Oh, it’s bees. OH! Its a swarm. Oh, wow! Can we follow them? Can we catch them?
Then they disappeared down the garden, so we gave chase... as far as one of our apple trees, where they gathered as a giant pear-drop, bigger than a football. That was pretty much perfect in terms of trying to catch them. As is always the way, we didn’t have the necessary equipment on hand, so I went back out to buy a few things, and my partner kept an eye on the swarm.
As it turned out, it was swarm weather. It took me a while to get the things we needed from the bee supplies place (operated out of someone’s garage) because there was a queue of bee-keepers from around the area, all dealing with swarms. I got home just in time to witness our giant pear-drop of bees (literally thousands of them, hanging peacefully in the tree) melt away like a blob of butter over a high heat and head off down the hill. We tried to track them, but lost sight after half a mile or so.
I followed yesterday’s swarm as best I could, but after a brief hover over the cowshed, I lost them. The only way to keep track was to head round the end of the barn, and by the time I had done that, they were gone. Or course, they may have settled in one of the buildings, so we shall keep an eye out. We’ve muttered for years about re-starting bee-keeping, so if we have just gained a swarm, maybe we will.
For now, we will keep an eye on the cowshed and barn to see if we have a hive establishing there. Just a daily test to see if we are bee-positive.