A swarm in May …

Two weeks ago, we had a swarm of bees in our garden. I don’t think it was from our own colony, though it might have been. I caught it and popped it into a fresh hive I had made for just such an occasion.

Today, we had another swarm, this time from our original, top bar hive. For five minutes, the air was a maelstrom of frantic buzzing. Then, they settled on a low branch and I debated what to do.

Eventually, I hit on a cunning wheeze. I would take the roof off my new hive, lay a sheet of newspaper across the top, add a storey with some empty frames, tip the swarm into this, and then pop the lid back on. By the time the bees from below, or possibly the new ones above, ate through the newspaper and discovered their neighbours, they would hopefully have forgotten their allegiance was to different queens and would happily coexist.

Naturally, one queen would have to be sacrificed, but I would leave it to the bees to decide which.

The plan didn’t run faultlessly. I shook the branch the swarm was on in the approved manner, and a largish chunk of bees dropped into the box I was holding, but I couldn’t persuade the others to follow, and the queen must have been amongst them, because when I spilled those I had caught into their new home, they vacated it within an hour and were soon back on their tree branch again.

So, I had another go, this time cutting through the inch thick branch they were hanging from and carrying it, with the bees clinging on, and to each other, in a writhing mass, across the garden, through the greenhouse, to ‘apiary corner’.

The oddest part of this scheme is that the topbar hive the swarm came from is only a few feet from the hive they’re now in; but they’re supposed to have no memory of ever having been there. I’m not sure you can put them back in their original hive, though.

I googled this solution, which, if it works, seems the perfect method of swarm control.

Photos from Gran Canaria

Some photos from Gran Canaria.

Lovely sun, flowers, walks, parks, dunes and… naked golfers. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to photograph the last one!

    1. Very nice. Such lovely flowers. What are those weird fruits (photo 4)? And where did you see the OrangUtans? I don’t remember a zoo. Shame you didn’t snap one of those stone shelters.

      1. Some kind of palm tree fruit i guess – not sure if they were edible. We visited Palmitos Park on the last day where there was a rather bored Orangutan…


While on the subject of humanure, it seems most compost toilets utilise the same preference for sitting, rather than squatting, popularised by Thomas Crapper himself. This is unfortunate, as the position is implicated in too many health problems to count. However, there is a movement afoot to circumvent this that doesn’t involvce ripping out your prize ceramic throne and replacing it with one of these (available for £50 on ebay):


Such as:







Or, for those who like to make these sorts of thing themselves:


squat-toilet (1).jpg

My own construction, based on the lillipad design, is still going strong:

CIMG2054 (Small).JPG

Of course, what we really need is this sort of thing in our back garden (or yard) if we’re lucky enough to have the space:


  1. I have been unfortunate enough to have a composting toilet located in my hallway – right between my bedroom and living room. After much lobbying the aforementioned pit of cess has been moved to the downstairs hallway. I can report that due to the excellent quality of sawdust used, that only very rarely does my entire house wreak of doo-doo.
    Our research has proved that you just need a bucket, a smattering of privacy and a compost which has a lid on it. Adding paper is good but not too much of the yellow wet stuff.

    1. the yellow stuff is good for watering the plants…

  2. pinkie

    Ha ha ha ha ha heeeee heeee heeeee “doo-doo”! Childish I know.