A swirling, buzzing cloud of bees filled the air. I never knew that the Vivheart hive contained so many bees. Despite performing a vertical split (the Demaree method which resembles the construction of a tall skyscraper) in early May, our bees had swarmed. I knew that they had come through winter well and that the population was high but the vertical split, which involves splitting the brood between an upper and lower brood box with the queen bee confined to the lower, had given them plenty of room. I had intended to do it again at the end of May but grew complacent and it never happened. Now we were paying the price. When bees swarm, the population halves and honey production crashes.

As the bees settled into a nearby tree, I opened the hive to inspect the damage. Sure enough, there were unhatched queen cells on a frame. The little blighters had decided to abscond after laying the groundwork for a new queen.

As I worked on the hive, I was aware of slowly being engulfed by bees. Stepping back, I realised that the bees had left the tree and were now covering the hive as they jostled to get back in! They had changed their minds about leaving! Perhaps the old queen who is clipped, so cannot fly, could not join them in their flight which had forced them to come back home.

I put the queen cells with some brood and bees into a new hive and let them be. In the end, the bees settled, now we have two hives and we have been rewarded with lots of honey.