Bees make a beeline for the compost bin

Seven thousand bees form a surprise swarm under the lid of the compost bin.

Seven thousand bees form a surprise swarm under the lid of the compost bin.

IN spite of dire warnings about pesticide use, foreign viruses and air pollution, there still seem to be an awful lot of honey bees around. A swarm had to be removed from the Market Place in Salisbury this week, and then, out of the blue, The Happy Moonraker discovered a swarm in the compost bin.

A phone call was made to the Salisbury & District Beekeepers’ Association and a helpful man with all the right equipment, as well as 39 years’ experience, attended the scene. He wanted to know how long they’d been in the bin. Three days, replied The Happy Moonraker. Ah, said the expert, that’s good because it means the comb wax will still be quite soft.

Leaving his hands uncovered but wearing a protective top and veil, he proceeded to remove small pieces of freshly made comb and encouraged all the bees into a special box. He moved slowly and took care not to make any sudden movements. This worked because he was not stung once, in spite of being with the bees for a good 40 minutes.

Having put the main part of the swarm and comb pieces in the box, he was able to leave them once he’d seen some of them flapping their wings to show the others how to get into the box. Although he wanted to take them away, he could only do so once he was sure they were all in there.

He returned the following morning in the pouring rain. Gently lifting the lid of the box to check the bees were inside, he then put the box in a bag, placed it in his car boot and drove away. Because of the rain, there were no bees left behind looking for pollen.

Our visiting expert said that the small swarm, weighing about 1½lbs, contained 7,000 honey bees. The Happy Moonraker, who did not count them, hopes they have found a good home where their efforts will be appreciated.

 Easy does it: an experienced bee-keeper carries out the delicate operation to move the swarming bees and their queen into a box before taking them away.

Easy does it: an experienced bee-keeper carries out the delicate operation to move the swarming bees and their queen into a box before taking them away.

 

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