I've been having computer problems this week. I've written this story twice already only to have my computer refuse to let me post it. I assure you, both earlier drafts were pure litterary gold! :D
The day before yesterday I looked outside my window just in time to see my biggest hive start to swarm. I rushed outside and stood helplessly watching as a tornado of bees swirled higher and higher. Within a few minutes the swarm had landed about 80' up in a fir tree. I knew right then that these bees were as good as gone. Ungrateful little #$%^&$!s
A couple hours after watching my bees swarm I got my first call to collect a swarm. This was pretty much a best case scenario: nice swarm, easy to collect and only a few miles from home. Things were looking up.
I proceeded to shake the bees into a bucket and then dump the bucket into a hive box with foundation. After dumping the first couple of buckets into the hive I noticed the girls out fanning like crazy. It was all over except for sealing up the hive and carrying it home. I left the hive there overnight and returned bright and early the next morning. There were no bees flying yet so I slipped a screen in the entrance and headed home.
After I got this swarm home I checked on the swarm that got away from me the previous day. Yep, they were still up in the top of the fir tree. A few hours later I heard a terrific buzz and looked up in time to see the swarm head out for places unknown.
A couple hours later I got a call to collect another swarm. I'd like to be able to say that it was my swarm, but no such luck. This swarm was about 15 miles away and located in a dogwood tree right in front of the main entrance to an elementary school.
This should have been an easy capture, but-----things happened! The swarm was about 10' off the ground so I had to work off of a ladder. There was also a very bushy limb directly under the limb that the swarm was on. I wanted to improve my dexterity while working on the ladder so I didn't wear my gloves. Mistake #1. I climbed the ladder with a pair of loppers and a bucket in my hand. When I got up there I realized that the loppers wouldn't help so I set them on the shelf on the ladder. I put the bucket under the swarm and gave the limb a couple of quick jerks. A huge mass of bees fell into the bucket. That's when things got a little exciting, I dropped the bucket. Mistake #2. Here's a hint for the rest of you folks: if you have a 5gallon bucket of angry bees over your head DO NOT DROP IT! If they were not angry enough at being shaken off the limb they certainly were by the time the bucket hit the ground.
I figure I must have taken about 10 stings in each hand. The stings didn't hurt but my hands are currently swollen up like catchers mitts and, boy, do they itch. Next time I will definitely wear my gloves. I only got one other sting, that was where a bee stung me on the forehead right through my veil. If I had been wearing my gloves that is the only sting I would have gotten.
The bees are home now. So, I guess I'm a little bit ahead, I lost one swarm but got two others.