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Author Topic: Yiks!! I am on a swarm list!!  (Read 4115 times)
annette
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« on: January 27, 2009, 01:35:59 PM »

Just got my name placed onto the Department of Agriculture swarm list for El Dorado County.

There are about 10 beekeepers total on this list and they told me they all get called in the Spring. I am nervous about it, but of course if I get called I can ask questions and I am not going up on high trees.

I did receive a cardboard nuc box from Brushy Mt, which I have to put together. Is this all I need to gather a swarm?Huh

Let me know a list of things I will need to keep in my car besides my bee outfit and the nuc box.

Please be specific if you can like how many frames I place into the nuc box and what sort of frames (honey, drawn out wax combs, pollen etc.) Perhaps a step stool in the car??

Any advice would be helpful so I can be as prepared as possible.

Thanks dear people

Annette
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 01:49:08 PM »

I know what to do if they are on a limb that I can just shake, then I just shake them into the box, but what about a taller, thicker limb that I cannot shake. Not everyone wants to cut off a branch (and I do not want to cut anything either as I am not skilled with chainsaws or strong enough with a regular saw)

DayValleyDahlias asked me what I will do with all the swarms I catch and she reminded me of the saga of her swarm last year with a moment to moment update on the forum, keeping all of us in suspense.  Well I hope something like that actually happens to me as it  sounds very exciting.

I am not into catching lots of swarms, just would like to catch a couple to increase the size of hives.
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 01:53:26 PM »

Might need a ladder, and hedge clippers too. Occasionally a swarm will land directly on the side of a house, or window, even though it's almost a completely flat surface. Other's will land on low limbs to trees that might be just out of reach. These are the easiest ones to get, You just shake the bees in and close the lid hoping the queen is inside.

I find a queen excluder is also handy. Swarms don't always like being shoved in a box and scout bees have also found other locations with promise.

Your Bee suit and hopefully an assistant willing to help (friend or family). It makes it so much easier being there with someone else. Some swarms get the attention of the news, and police officers will shut down roads as a precaution. (I'm serious about this, it happened last year.)

Swarms that are to high to get up in trees, someone told me if you can get a rope up there and attach a frame with brood in it, the bees will eventually find it and cling to it. Of course that might take a day but usually by the next morning they'll all be around it. If not then don't worry they'll eventually move on.

Some swarms just can't be caught. If you're not up to getting bees out of walls to someone's house, call someone who will! Especially if you aren't registered as a business.
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2009, 02:00:16 PM »

I know what to do if they are on a limb that I can just shake, then I just shake them into the box, but what about a taller, thicker limb that I cannot shake. Not everyone wants to cut off a branch (and I do not want to cut anything either as I am not skilled with chainsaws or strong enough with a regular saw)

If you have to and the owners are fine with it then do the tree a favor. Even if this is with a hand saw. Make a cut UNDER the limb first, and then star cutting down from the top. This way when the branch falls it doesn't strip the bark half way down the tree leaving a gaping wound.

Smaller twigs and sticks won't be missed much and just cut them with loppers or any cutting tool. note that swarms are heavy. The bees filled up with honey before leaving so expect some weight.

Some people like to use frames like a brush. This seems to work especially if it's drawn out already.
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2009, 02:01:37 PM »

Thanks for the information. I plan on going as high as a step stool can help me. Anything higher than that is beyond my capabilities. I don't think anyone will help me so I am on my own with this.

But what do I do when they are on the side of a house or on a window??? Just brush them into the box???

Good idea about the queen excluder, but this is a 5 frame nuc box. So I need a queen excluder for a nuc box??  Or I would place just the regular size queen excluder on top of the box just so the queen cannot get out???

Explain what you mean by using a frame like a brush. You mean the drawn out frame would be used to push them off a house for example??
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2009, 02:19:36 PM »

Annette, first things first, when you get a swarm call, there are specific questions you must ask to narrow things down a bit. You would obviously need to determine if in fact it is a swarm and not bee activity from an established colony. Sometimes people really don't know what they're looking at so find out the particulars before you waste a trip out on something you don't want to fool with.

How high from the ground is the swarm cluster? About how large, basketball, canalope sized?

What are they hanging from, how long has it been there?

There are more I can think of but I 'm in a rush for a dr appointment.

You've seen my cardboard boxes

These work great for temporay housing, I usually throw a piece of comb or frame of honey in the box for acceptance.

I could go on, but have to run for now.

Oh, and remember you don't have to catch everyone and you won't, its a lot about timing.


...JP
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2009, 02:26:36 PM »

spray bottle with lemongrass and sugar.  helps settle the bees in the box as you are collecting.  bee brush and dust pan...  clippers and i have a poll clipper for reaching higher branches when i can't climb.  duct tape for the box...it sucks when they start leaking out in the back seat.  smallish tarp for under the box. 
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2009, 02:35:26 PM »

Swarm catching is very easy. Just hold the box under them and rake them in.   evil    grin

You might want to modify your apparel a bit, tho.

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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2009, 03:04:32 PM »

Repeat everything everyone else said and add the following info too. Use JP box idea. Just  look at the picture above and see why. A hive box is too heavy to hold. W/ the box, that swarm would be more easily transferred into a box and then dumped into a hive body. Now that swarm was ideally placed for any style remobal, but they usually are in the most inconveint spot. Use a queen "includer" to induce the queen to stay a few days. reduces your swarm from leaving by about 90% some weeks. 

BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOUSE, ask 1000 questions. I also encourage the homeowner to google "honeybee image" and "yellow jacket image" and Hornet image before I will drive over. Also, the bees get smaller in number and higher in the tree the farther you have to drive to get them! People can't accurately portray the size and numbers of bees!
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 03:34:42 PM »

And above all else, Be Happy and Enjoy the Experience. Smiley Smiley Smiley
Looking forward to hearing about all the fun.
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 03:54:36 PM »

Annette, how exciting!  I'm not sure but if you have one of the cheap plastic "queen includers" like me you couldn't you cut it 1/2 to fit the nucs???  Maybe I will run out & hack at mine with scissors or blade to see if it will work.  If cutting doesn't work you could score w/blade & bend to break? huh  J
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 04:37:09 PM »

Annette:

I'd RATHER be on SURVIVOR with you then JP on my alliance !!! I think you'd be the GETTER DONE part of the stick and Get to know those other beekeers in your call group - if you find a swarm to big for you to do - WORK WITH THE OTHER NINE COMPETITORS you always getting the managable situation for your set up and YOU letting them know where the big ones are!

I would too allign with JP for his ALLEGIANCE and dedication to work with a good strong team. There is a question about which TV REALITY SHOW

In Survivor speak, I think we'd do great until week 9 - not bad Smiley

Slightly off topic I know - sorry.
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 07:23:49 PM »

Get a bee brush, stiff cardboard and thin plywood in various sizes to help catch and funnel the bees when you brush.  Cardboard and plywood squares are easier to hold up than a hive body.  a queen clip can be handy if you happen to spot her.  Catch her and put clip and all in the box, the bees will follow.  5 gallon bucket can be handy to stand on, sit on, or when your box isn't big enough.  Lemon grass oil, put a drop or two in the box.  a frame of open brood can draw them into the box when you can't get them any other way.  An extendable painters pole with a spring clamp on the end can be used to raise a frame of brood up to a high limb and lure the queen onto the frame.  Have fun, and suit up.  a dry swarm can get nasty.

Note, if they say they are 6 feet off the ground, they are likely 15-20.  If they say they just noticed them, they've been there 3 days.  And finally, they always leave 10 minutes before you get there. Have cell phone, leave your number, have them call if they fly off, save gas.  Oh, and charge for your gas if possible, and don't be afraid to turn down any and everything if it doesn't feel right.  Some will be easy and some will defy every effort.
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 10:12:01 PM »

For free standing/hanging swarms I've always used a throw cloth under the hive and a brush (in the case of side of houses etc) besides my veil.  A smoker really isn't necessary during swarm catching but is always there for that 1 out of 100 cases.  Using at least one frame of drawn comb w/wo honey helps.  A queen excluder for catching the queen if the swarm is a direct drop in is also good.  Otherwise the excluder can keep the queen out if she has to enter via the entrance.
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2009, 11:00:37 PM »

Anne: I'm excited for you. I did my first cut out last year, and collected 3 swarms. As far as what to take- You can't take to much stuff. You need a pickup truck full of stuff. Screen wire to cover enterance, scissors, to cut wire with, staple gun to staple wire with, bucket for honey comb, bucket for water, an assistant to take pics, and all the other stuff in the previous post plus the other 50 items that you'll learn you need on the next swarm removal.  I also staple the botom board to my hive body so it's one piece. (easier to handle) Good luck and have fun.
P.S. Don't forget you can always back off, if things are not going good at the moment, regroup and go again. And don't forget to, as women like to say "Bee gentle" . Keep us posted. grin
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2009, 01:31:42 AM »

Hey Annette,

Wish you lived closer, like down the road a piece, ha ha...We could be a team!
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2009, 01:48:02 AM »

For free standing/hanging swarms I've always used a throw cloth under the hive and a brush (in the case of side of houses etc) besides my veil.  a smoker really isn't necessary during swarm catching but is always there for that 1 out of 100 cases.  Using at least one frame of drawn comb w/wo honey helps.  a queen excluder for catching the queen if the swarm is a direct drop in is also good.  Otherwise the excluder can keep the queen out if she has to enter via the entrance.

As Brian pointed out keep a white sheet with you. When a swarm is low to the ground say on a bush, and over a grassy area or something similar, place the sheet down, box on top the sheet then shake the bees. The sheet helps you see and keeps you from having to dig the queen out of the grass.


...JP
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2009, 06:55:57 AM »

 I'll just add that you should find a helper. Sometimes teenagers are good at this because they are 10' tall and bullet proof when they are in their teens. If you can get one that listens and does exactly what you say you've got it made.My friend Billy is exceptionally good at this but he's grown up and in the airforce now.  They will learn about bees and have bragging rights to all their friends and you'll have a box of bees. You might even get a friend and beekeeper out of the deal.
 you should get a backup beekeeper's number if the job is too big.
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« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2009, 07:30:20 AM »

Blankets are great for low swarms.



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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2009, 08:05:28 AM »

Annette, first things first, when you get a swarm call, there are specific questions you must ask to narrow things down a bit. You would obviously need to determine if in fact it is a swarm and not bee activity from an established colony. Sometimes people really don't know what they're looking at so find out the particulars before you waste a trip out on something you don't want to fool with.

How high from the ground is the swarm cluster? About how large, basketball, canalope sized?

What are they hanging from, how long has it been there?

There are more I can think of but I 'm in a rush for a dr appointment.

You've seen my cardboard boxes

These work great for temporay housing, I usually throw a piece of comb or frame of honey in the box for acceptance.

I could go on, but have to run for now.

Oh, and remember you don't have to catch everyone and you won't, its a lot about timing.


...JP


Sorry...maybe I'm still a little confused on what to put them in at first.  So I should come to the site with a cardboard box like that to put them in, and then transfer them to nuc when I get home?  I am assuming no hole in the box if it's just for transfer smiley
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2009, 09:40:48 AM »

Tlynn wrote "Sorry...maybe I'm still a little confused on what to put them in at first.  So I should come to the site with a cardboard box like that to put them in, and then transfer them to nuc when I get home?  I am assuming no hole in the box if it's just for transfer?"  Smiley

I usually have woodenware with me to house a swarm but a lot of times the cardboard box trick works best for me.

1)I am in an area where its not uncommon to catch 5 or more swarms in a day, so you could run out of woodenware quickly, the box works great for temporary housing,besides if I kept every swarm I caught, I would have way more hives than I could keep up with. Its easier for me to drop the boxes off to my friends or other people looking to house a swarm.

2) As pointed out by Konasdad,cardboard or plastic boxes are much lighter than woodenware, hence much easier to use when shaking a swarm into while you're up on a ladder.

Of course having both, woodenware and either a nuc or a deep or medium on site is a great way to go.

Finally, if you look at the above pic, there is a square cut into the box. Once the vast majority of the bees are in the box, I use my smoker to puff a few inside, then duct tape the entrance, secure the top and you're ready to go!


...JP
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2009, 01:12:04 PM »

for me a vaccum is a must, a couple empty 50lb rice bags(some for bees and some for comb) a saw, some nails and the usual other stuff. Once my hand can reach the bees so can my vaccum hose. When its full empty it into the bags and start sucking again, cut out comb where applicable giva away the honey comb, put the brood comb into the other bags which i usually destroy
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2009, 01:23:57 PM »

I especially like the swarms that are just about 1-2 feet above my head.  Then I can hold the box against my chest, look right up at the swarm, and then shake it all right down! rolleyes  Very exciting!

If the swarm is on a trunk or large branch, you can brush them or knock as many as possible into the box.  If you get the queen, then you can set it down and let the rest of them find the box.  It is rather aggrivating, having to wait for the slow bees to find their way to the box.


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« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2009, 10:04:44 AM »

Hey Annette,

Here are the items I used.

Bee Suit
Spray bottle containing sugar syrup and lemongrass
Bee Brush
2 dust pans
small plastic bucket
Queen includer
Drawn comb

The most difficult part was the location of the swarm cluster, but as I wrote, they took off to live in an upside down metal garbage can...then it became easy.

Looking forward to the stories!

Shar
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« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2009, 01:13:09 PM »

I have been having a hectic few days so did not have a chance to truly read all these posts. I am printing out the replies and will read them all this week when I calm down.

But I truly appreciate all the replies and the information is very valuable. I will read all of them and if I have any questions, then I will post again here.

Thanks so much for coming forward with the help

Annette rainbow sunflower
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« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2009, 01:18:32 PM »

Oh I almost forgot, I get a big paper sheet type thingie...helps to drag stiff around, and catch things and such~*~*~ yippie chick
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« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2009, 04:12:44 PM »

Hi!  I am new to this forum...but have caught many swarms.  Just relax and handle it slow and steady.  Don't ever be in a hurry.  I have gotten easy and hard calls....some have been HIGH in trees, inside the concrete walls of strip malls and in a tiny hole three flights up on the side of the building.  Don't feel bad if you can't get em....and don't hurt yourself!  My easiest catches were a swarm that tried to make a home on a wrought iron railing in an apartment building and another one that was under a plastic lawn chair.  I still have the chair with the wax foundation started on it.  Good luck...be careful...have fun! Let us know how it goes!  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2009, 01:41:38 AM »

OK I have read all the suggestions. It all makes sense to me so I will go over the lists and decide what to purchase and get into my car.

Of course when the calls come in, you will all hear from me, as I am sure I will need moral support.

Take care and thanks for the help
Annette rainbow sunflower
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« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2009, 01:46:07 AM »

Annette:

I'd RATHER be on SURVIVOR with you then JP on my alliance !!! I think you'd be the GETTER DONE part of the stick and Get to know those other beekeers in your call group - if you find a swarm to big for you to do - WORK WITH THE OTHER NINE COMPETITORS you always getting the managable situation for your set up and YOU letting them know where the big ones are!

I would too allign with JP for his ALLEGIANCE and dedication to work with a good strong team. There is a question about which TV REALITY SHOW

In Survivor speak, I think we'd do great until week 9 - not bad Smiley

Slightly off topic I know - sorry.

Good advice about getting to know the other beekeepers and I know someone else mentioned that also. Will do that right away.
 rainbow sunflower
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« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2009, 01:52:19 AM »

You guys are all so wonderful and helpful. This is such a wonderful forum and it makes me happy to read all the comments.
All the suggestions are important to me.

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« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2009, 08:25:29 AM »

ANOTHER IDEA
I tape a sheet below or on a branch so the bees are over the sheet . Play out the sheet so it's like a slide going into a container and with a rubber malet or by hand give a couple shakes to loosen the bees . I also use sugarwatter and lemon grass on the swarm and the box to keep them together , just dont drown them (a little dab will do it) .For emergencies I carry a 50 ft.  roll of plastic about 5 ft. wide to make a slide and 3 oz fishing sinkers for windy days .HAVE FUN !!!!!!!
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« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2009, 10:40:19 AM »

OK my first question.

How do I make the sugar water/lemongrass oil mixture. What percentage of each???
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« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2009, 10:46:39 AM »

OK my first question.

How do I make the sugar water/lemongrass oil mixture. What percentage of each???

You could do a 1 to 1 sugar/water mix and just add a few drops of lemon grass oil to the mix. You don't want to overdo it on the lemon grass, a little goes a long way.


...JP
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« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2009, 10:50:48 AM »

when i make a spray bottle of lemon grass, i use 1:1 mix in favor of the sugar, and maybe 1 drop of the lemon grass oil.  it's pretty strong stuff.
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« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2009, 11:03:13 AM »

when i make a spray bottle of lemon grass, i use 1:1 mix in favor of the sugar, and maybe 1 drop of the lemon grass oil.  it's pretty strong stuff.
ok thanks Kathy and JP also.

Love
Annette
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« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2009, 04:02:12 PM »

Take spary bottle, fill half weay w/ sugar, fill remainder w/ hot tap water and shake. Add a capful of Honey-B-healthy. Refrigerate under ideal circumstances. Cold spray works best. I always keep a filled spray bottle, a cardboard box, dust pan, sheet of cardboard or cloth, and step ladder in car art all times. That will be good enough for about 50% during height of swarm season. If they take more equipment, you can pass on them initally if "comfort" is an issue.
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« Reply #36 on: January 31, 2009, 02:14:54 PM »

I have used sugar water to spray them with, but the lemon grass oil is interesting.  I think someone earlier said it calmed the bees better....where do you get the lemon grass oil?  The sheet is a good idea....I have had to scoop the swarm out of the grass before with a spatula into a big tupperware bowl.  Not the ideal way to do it! Ha!
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« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2009, 03:02:03 PM »

I have used sugar water to spray them with, but the lemon grass oil is interesting.  I think someone earlier said it calmed the bees better....where do you get the lemon grass oil?  The sheet is a good idea....I have had to scoop the swarm out of the grass before with a spatula into a big tupperware bowl.  Not the ideal way to do it! Ha!


First, welcome to beemaster bee babe!

The lemon grass oil can be purchased at a health food store or cheaper on line. The lemon grass smells like a pheromone (nosanov) that is an orientating pheromone the bees utilize in a few different instances one being when orienting during a swarm. The lemon grass will help them orient to your box set up when housing a swarm.

Sheets work really well at keeping bees out of grass and grates and such


...JP
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« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2009, 03:54:46 PM »

or a smaller tarp.  i like the tarp because it's easy to bend in half and dump bees into the hive if they are reluctant.  it's also easy to hose off after cutouts  smiley

sheets hide bees...then i get stung...then i chug benadryl...then i sleep.........  rolleyes

i got my lemon grass oil on ebay.  there are a number of good essential oil sellers on there.   just watch the shipping and ratings. 
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 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2009, 08:01:42 PM »

Yeah a sheet is always a part of any good swarm catching kit.  Preferrably one from a King sized bed.  I used to use a large Canvas tarpoline but it gets terribly heavy and hard to handle when, although the bees can get a better grip on it when marching into the hive.

2 sheets are better, one to use as a ground apron and the other as a shute for sliding the bees into the hive when the hive has to be offset from where the swarm is hanging.
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« Reply #40 on: February 02, 2009, 07:48:18 AM »

Thanks for the info on the lemon oil....and the welcome!  Oh...KathyP, your avatar picture is beautiful!  Smiley
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« Reply #41 on: February 02, 2009, 09:18:59 PM »

thanks.... i picked it because i thought it was a good representation of my gemini, schizophrenic nature   evil
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« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2009, 07:28:49 PM »

AKKK, not another one!!  drowning This poor defensless Scorpio (did I mention feeble??) is married to one & both Daughters are Gemini!  J
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