Lollipop Swarm

I belong to a swarm call list in my area, and I got a call a couple evenings ago. I had just returned from swimming and was getting ready to make a homemade pizza. I rarely eat pizza, but I had a couple slices back in May and again in June, and was giving in to the pizza smell that was entering in my brain.

Bees get me pretty excited so I dropped everything to take the swarm call because it seemed that it was meant to be. I was already planning to be in that area, so I thought I’d get the swarm in the box, trade the van for the truck (as I do every weekend) while the swarm settled into my box, then retrieve the box and go home. I loaded my things and left the house within 5 minutes of getting the call.

Being in a high traffic area (a truck stop) and knowing that swarms may not rest in one place for long added some urgency to the situation. I called the employee who filled me in by sending a couple photos:

No ladder needed! How exciting!
in the tree

Technical words: If you look at the tree, you see that it’s tethered very tightly to keep it upright. This means that I couldn’t bend the trunk to my advantage and shake the bees off. Instead, I pushed a deep frame of old comb under the cluster and shook the bees off the branches as best I could, then transferred everything into the blue nuc box that I had waiting on the ground. I spent more time than I would have on a non-tethered tree, but overall, everything went very quickly. I want to say I used 3 frames. I could reach the bees from the ground as they were near elbow height and the sidewalk and driveway were laid in a way that I had plenty of buffer between me and everyone else and could drive pretty close, the ground was level — everything was ideal.

right after i shook them into the box

When I returned with the truck, I had to give one more shake to the branch, which went into a second nuc box. I set another deep frame of comb next to the blue box to attract all the bees that couldn’t fit inside. Once I got them moved into the second box, I headed inside to get paid, as instructed.

Then I drove home. I named them “Lollipop” because I felt like a kid buying candy at the truck stop and it fits with this year’s Wizard of Oz naming convention.

keeping with city ordinance means the bees went right in front of the air conditioner

After I got the bees out of the nuc boxes and into a full-size box, I headed indoors and found my abandoned pizza dough.

But that was OK, because I had asked to get paid in pizza.

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