This year I have turned my research focus into how to grow my apiary (fancy name for a bee farm!). I have spent the last two weeks chasing down swarms of bees (bees split their hive in the spring to make space in the hive) and also doing cutouts (when bees make hives in the living quarters of us humans).
Yesterday was an interesting day of bee catching. I received a tip that there was a bee swarm on the brake of a train in Westlake, LA. The train company wasnt able to disconnect the train car for fear of being stung by the bees. I quickly loaded up the truck full of my bee equipment and drove there as fast as legally possible. When I had arrived the train company had evacuated all their personnel for a quarter mile! They were so worried. I tried to explain to them about the importance of bees and that I would have them safely removed within a few hours.
The bees were very calm and I vacuumed most of them up in my bee vacuum (that I made of course). When I couldn't get to the rest of the bees at the top of the brake system gears, I decided to turn the brake gears gently to get the bees to move out. And move out they did! They swarmed out of the brake and thousands upon thousands of bees flew all over the surrounding cars! I gently retreated back to my pickup for a few minutes while they calmed down. Finally they began clustering on another car.
I quickly moved my equipment and began vacuuming again. I quickly was able to suck the rest of the bees up and they were now safely in a sealed bee box in the back of my truck. The train company man was quite thankful to say the least.
Now came the difficult part. I had to transfer the bees to their new home at my farm. I tried to gently dump the bees in their new box. Most of the bees went right in, but a few landed on the ground. They refused to fly up to their new box. I watched them like a helicopter parent the whole evening and they never went into their new home, now matter how much I tried to coax and convince them. I finally gave up and moved a small topbar hive to the ground next to them to see if they would go into it. To my delight they quickly covered the front of the hive and several went inside. So, I made myself a deal. I would let them "bee" for the night and check on them first thing in the morning.
I went out the next morning to find them exactly as I left them. I decided something had to be done. I had to get them to move into the "Happy Honey Hotel"! After googling the signs and symptoms I came to the conclusion that the queen bee had yet to enter the hive. I donned my bee suit once more and lit my smoker. I was going to get them in the hive if it was the only thing I did today!
My plan was simple. I was going to move the hive to the ground next to them and smoke them into the hive. To put it simply, my plan worked. They marched right into their new home!!! After leaving them alone for about an hour I went out to check and see if they stayed. Most of them had but several hundred were once again clustered up on the ground in front of the hive. I am going to just let them "bee" for the next few days and see what happens. Check back in a few days to see the final outcome of my "Bees on a train"!