The Swarm and The Day After

For those of you who read RiverCliff Cottage regularly, you know the Third Annual Dale Jett & Hello Stranger Cemetery Benefit took place last night.  It was great.    I am so grateful to the artists, the folks who came how to see Dale, Teresa and Oscar and the Poor Valley Girls.   I’m very grateful to Domtar who helped us so much by providing seed money.   The melodies have been in my head all day.   Carter Family music is alive and well in Poor Valley!!

I didn’t take the next two pictures.  Friends took them and put them on Facebook.   Here’s the final song where everyone is gathered around singing “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and we were singing, too.

The Gang on Stage

This picture below is of the Poor Valley Girls.  Great CD.   If you attended and did not purchase a CD and want to, message me, and I’ll hook you up.   CD’s are $15 and they are worth every penny.     Dale Jett & Hello Stranger have several CD’s.   They are more easily found, and I’ve downloaded a couple of their songs to my MP3 player, too.  The Poor Valley Girls are just getting started with recording, so their CD is trickier to find.

Heads in the Building

So I am very grateful for last night, but whew!    This morning left quite a bit of work to be done….after the benefit stuff.   I got up early…it was still foggy in the valley…

Butch's Lambs

First on my list was taking down banners.   In the past, I’ve felt sorry for the Elk Knob guys working on Barnrock Road who have to put the signs up, take the signs down, move the signs around and so on. What a pain!  I thought about that today as I followed the truck. I took a picture.


So I was doing the same thing this morning.  Taking signs down.   I hate seeing out-of-date signs left behind, so I wanted to get these down quick!!    I had no makeup, uncombed hair and my pajama top out scurrying around.   I’ve got one left that Mike will have to help me with. I’ll reuse them next year.

Dale Jett 2

So after taking the banners down, it was about 9:30 am, and I ran down to the community center to help break down tables, pick up all of the stuff like chalkboards, ferns, etc., and I came back home thinking I’d rest. My feet were killing me. And then the call came….Gordon (pictured below) had been told by the Elk Knob guys working this morning that there was a swarm of bees up in one of the hollers.


Gordon’s wife, Janet, called to let my brother-in-law, Gerald, know.  My sister, Nancy, called to ask if I wanted to help.  Off we went on our bee adventure!    Who cares about tired feet when you have bees to catch!!   We had to drive about two miles.  I could not take pictures while we were doing all of this because we needed all of our hands, but I went back later with my camera.  Here’s the holler.


It was muddy…really muddy. It had rained hard last night. My foot got stuck in the mud.


And then both Gerald and I had to channel our “inner goat” and climb the bank. It doesn’t look that steep in the photograph, but we were climbing around with sugar water, a plastic container and a nuc box. Here’s where the bees were.  I can look to the left in this picture about half way down and see two tracks.  That was me.  Sliding.

Bee Swarm

When we first got there, we could not see the bees.   We decided to best thing to do was listen, and Gerald heard them first.  We walked toward the sound but couldn’t see anything, and then, I saw them!!   There were probably about 8,000 bees there in a big clump.  We then got our stuff and Gerald swept then in the nuc box while I squirted sugar water.  The bees were very calm.  They were probably thinking “it’s raining sugar water…we hope it never stops!”   Once they were in the nuc box,  we had to carefully scale back down the slippery, muddy bank.  We each had to do this one-handed because the other hand was on the nuc box.  We had to make sure the top of the nuc box did not come off.  Yikes!    We’d be covered in thousands of bees.   A fleeting thought of where my Epi-pen was went through my mind, but we were too involved to worry about that.

We finally got back to the truck.    Someone drove by and saw us in our white suits and heckled. This picture wasn’t from today, but here’s what we look like. A haz mat team!!    However, I would not heckle anyone carrying bees. It’s just not polite! What is that bumper sticker????…”Watch out, I’m low on estrogen and I’m carrying a gun, and I’ve got a wad of bees I’m going to throw at you!”

Beekeepers Again!

We got the bees installed in the nuc…this is a picture I’ve used before.  The nuc is a small box with five frames.  It’s where they’ll stay while we are setting up and airing out the hive structure.

Recapping the Nuc 2

We put them in the back of the truck and I climbed in the back of the truck with them. Gerald now looked like he was hauling an astronaut around with a white box. I wish I’d got him to take a picture but we were just so excited that I forgot all about it.

Tomorrow, we’ll put these bees in a hive.  You might be wondering where the bees came from?  We are,  too. Most likely, since they were a mile from the house (as the crow flies), they were OUR bees!! We’re so glad that they are back home and we can keep them safe and they can grow their colony.  Their instinct is to separate and find a new home with their newly hatched queen.  It’s how they reproduce.  Now,  they’ll think they found that home even though they are right back where they started.

Had the nice folks at Elk Knob not seen them and told Gordon, they would have surely perished. Thank you Elk Knob for watching out for our honeybees!



The Bees Swarm! Again!

Today Gerald’s bees swarmed AGAIN!   A healthy queen may lay 2000 eggs per day, and it takes 16 days for the eggs to hatch.  The queen in his hive must be AWESOME, because this hive has swarmed not once but twice and he still has lots of bees!     Fortunately, he saw the swarm and CAUGHT them.    While he was catching the bees, I was taking pictures.    By the time I got there, he had already captured most of the bees but you can see quite a few on the tree below.     Gerald was pretty sure he had already moved the queen into the “nuc” box, but in doing so, he had sprayed the swarm with sugar water.   They think it has rained yummy sugar water and are hoping for another downpour.     Look closely to see the bees; they blend in with the bark.

Bees on Tree 1

Gerald used a plastic bin which was light and he could hold it up to the tree and brush the bees into it.     That is the “nuc” box beside him.  You also see the plastic spray bottle with sugar water in it.   Bees are crazy about sugar water!   Further down, you’ll see our golfcarts…the “bee mobiles!”

Capturing the Bees 1

Here we go…they seem happy to land in the plastic box!   Probably were giving up on the idea of a sugar water rainfall and starting to wonder where their queen was.

Scaping Bees into Container

Staying after it…he said this was just a small amount of bees compared to what he’d had on the tree earlier.   Most were already captured.

Scarping Bees into Container 2

So…in this picture, he’s transferring the bees from the plastic bin to the “nuc” box.   I’m sure they were happy…back with their queen!

Putting them into the Nuc

That nuc box is full.  It normally has five frames in it, but the bees were so crowded, we left one frame out.    In the picture below, they are dropping into the nuc.  Very docile.  (This hive of bees has been meaner than Sh*t so this was a surprise.)

Putting them into the Nuc 2

It’s time to put the lid on the nuc.    Easy does it.

Recapping the Nuc

Just about done in this picture.

Recapping the Nuc 2

At this point, he’ll leave them in the nuc box while he sets another hive up.  We are very lucky to have captured these bees, and now there will be two hives over at Gerald’s house and two hives at my house.  We are back in the bee business!!

These bees are swarming because they are hatching out new queens.    I’m worried my hive will be next, even though it’s already split once  earlier this week.   We hate losing them after we’ve cared for them and tried to give them a perfect place to live.  In the wild, their chance of survival is very slim.

Just another beekeeping day in Mendota!



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