Hiving A Swarm Post Hip Replacement Surgery

Five weeks out of hip replacement surgery and the bees swarmed.  A potential disaster that is shaping up to be just fine.

The Swarm

The Swarm



















I saw the swarm just after finishing my “1 to 2 mile walk though the forest with the pack goats and dogs while doing my exercises “ part of my recovery program.  OK, the doctors know nothing about the forest, pack goats, or dogs, but it’s where I live and I don’t walk without the “family”.

The Swarm

On the plus side the ladies had decided to land low, amid a stack of bee boxes and frames that are waiting to go to storage.  (I still have a 25-pound limit on what the medical folks want me to lift).  Thank goodness no ladders were involved.

Stacks of bee boxes and new nuc

Stacks of bee boxes and new nuc

Hiving The Swarm With A New Hip

Off I go to the hayloft to pick up some cardboard nuc boxes.  On return I realized there were way too many bees to go into one box.

The Swarm

The Swarm








It was then I realized they had begun to set up house in one of the boxes in the stack.  OK.  Back to the storage area for  a bottom screen and hive top.

Being mindful of all my post-operative precautions: don’t lean in certain ways, don’t extend left leg, watch how you bend down… I gently pulled the 2 stacks of bee boxes apart to I could get to the portion of the swarm still on the outside of the boxes.  These I brushed into my nuc box, covered and set to the side.

Then, again being careful, I really don’t want to go though that hip operation again, I pulled off the top boxes in the stack to get to the main box they had chosen.  Happily, they had gone for the stack of cleaned frames and boxes that had already been sorted.  (I don’t keep frames over 5 years old).

I put their primary choice of boxes on the bottom screen and pulled 3 frames to make hole.  Then I started to brush bees who were exploring other boxes and frames into the primary box.  By the time they were brushed in, I realized that until they settled down there was no room for the bees in the nuc box.

Frames were replaced in the primary box, and top added.  The nuc box bees would have to wait until morning.  (The bees on the left were foraging, and simply not cooperating with the move.)

Boxed bees await a new location

The Swarm: Parts A and B


The Benefits Of Beekeeping – at least for me

Through the entire process I kept muttering: “I hope I have the queen”, “I hope I didn’t kill the queen”, and “Hey, I’m enjoying the heck out of this”.  What with the bad hip, and the operation I have not been able to work bees this year, and I’ve really missed it.

As I walked back to the house in the twilight, I realized that I had 1) not hurt myself and 2) had become so engrossed in what I was doing I was walking without my stick/cane.  See, beekeeping is good for you.

I also realized that if I missed the queen I would get to do this all over again in the morning, if they were still around.

Queen Bee Inside – Nuc Good To Travel

The dawn showed I had the queen.  Everyone was in place and low enough in the new bee box to add the bees who did an overnight in the nuc box.

All full with more to go

All full with more to go












The new nuc was strapped up and ready to move to another bee yard.   I can’t take it to the one here at the farm, because the bees would, of course, just fly back to where I found the swarm (the old move them 2 feet or 2 miles…).

They are now in their new bee yard with a second box on top, and although the photo was taken before I finished, with a collar on top that has a feeder and a pollen patty in it, and a mouse guard on the front (the one seen lying on top of the hive).

The Swarm's New Home

The Swarm’s New Home












It is so late in the bee year here that these bees will need feeding.  Fireweed is blooming, but that nectar run will be well over before they can store up winter supplies.

I am grateful to the bees for swarming low and for setting themselves into a nice box.  It’s the first time any swarm of mine has swarmed to a box.

That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, Maple Falls, Washington, where this beekeeper is looking forward to being allowed to lift 40 pounds next week. Only 7 more weeks of recovery to go.




About Bean

I am the beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, near Maple Falls, Washington. My bees fly from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives in the foothills of Mt. Baker (the second most glaciated volcano in Washington). I sell the raw honey my bees make, as well as honey produced by Washington beekeepers who are friends - the emphasis is on raw honey from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. I also make and sell Beeswax Salves. You can find me at the Ballard Farmers' Market in Seattle on Sundays from 10-3. When not with the bees, you'll most likely meet me up some mountain trail, pinhole camera and digital camera slung over my shoulders, and my pack goats trailing behind me.
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