Caged

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Swarm control takes quite a bit of this beekeeper’s mental energy in the spring. This season the whole idea of “swarm control” seemed particularly oxymoronic as there were at least two occasions when, despite keeping to my inspection schedule, I watched helplessly as colonies swarmed out the entrance as I opened the lid. Humbling, to say the least. Sometimes, though, things work out and I catch everything at just the right moment–queen contained, queen cells well-developed but not capped. It’s a lovely moment to break the brood cycle, and if all goes well, make a few nucs. The nuc featured here was made in early May and is ready for larger quarters with a new owner.

In preparing this nuc for transport to its new home, I wanted to make sure that the queen traveled safely. Invariably a bumpy car trip or an inadvertent stumble in the yard shifts frames, mashing a bees in the process. While losing a few bees is regrettable, it is only really tragic if one of them happens to be the queen! To address this concern, I made an inexpensive wire cage of window screen, trapped the queen beneath it with a good retinue of nurse bees, pressed the cage gently into the wax cells of the brood area, and secured the assembly with a rubber band. When replaced in the center of the nuc box, the cage should serve to protect her highness from bumps and reassure her owner until she can be released in her new home.

Here she is, marked blue for 2015–long live the queen!

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