Well, late last week our bees decided to break off some to begin a new colony (swarm) and we weren't really prepared.
And now we know that Steven definitely is not allergic to bee stings.
When a hive population starts to grow beyond the capacity of your hive box, bees will choose to raise up a new queen, and the new queen and a portion of the bees will break off (swarm out) to go find a new place to live. It is bee population control.
It is also a great way to get a new hive. If you are prepared, have another hive ready, you can help them with the move, or you can capture them after they swarm and 'show' them their new home.
We weren't prepared for them to swarm because when we checked them in April, the hive numbers seemed small. They must have had a very good spring.
They swarmed last week - gathered first in a tree just a few feet from the hive, but very high up in a locust tree. This is where Steven first saw them. Thinking perhaps he could just drop the swarm in temporary box, he got out the extension ladder, extended it all the way out (it still didn't reach the swarm). And prepared to climb to get 'his bees."
He chose, for some yet unknown reason (probably the heat) to not wear any bee gear. At all. Gloves, mask, suit, etc. Nada. After all, we've had bees two years and he hadn't yet been stung even once. They seemed very cooperative in our little hive.
Well he made it up the tree (he can climb better than a monkey) and got to the swarm. Snipped off the branch to drop the swarm into the big bucket he had taken up to capture it. That's when the trouble started.
After the bees began physically protesting all over his face and upper body, his attempts to put the lid on the bucket failed. So he simply dropped the bucket (bees and all) to the ground; (it only stunned them); jumped to the ground, and went to the house. Went out later to retrieve his glasses, his bucket, his ladder, and his dignity. LOL Bees had long since found some other place to go hang out.
He picked stingers out of his skin most of that day. Next day he ran a low-grade fever (probably from the sheer number of stings) and felt pretty crummy. Day after that he broke out in a red rash all over. But the following day all was back to normal. His body successful in warding off the attack.
So the swarm was missed this time. Learning experience for next time. Would be nice to capture a swarm and put a new hive out closer to the orchard.
I also told his grandmother that I need to buy her a video camera for any future episodes like this. I would love to have seen this one in replay.