Caught them!

Well, this weekend did not go as planned!  After Saturday morning’s soccer game, we planned to spend the rest of the weekend cleaning out Jonny’s shop.  It’s an overwhelming disaster area and we really need to get it organized.

But, Seth spotted a swarm in the walnut tree next to our beehives, so plans changed.  Jonny’s first effort to brush the swarm into a bucket resulted in the bees moving to another nearby tree.  That was a pretty amazing thing to watch.  We breathed a huge sigh of relief when they landed on a branch that Jonny could reach with the ladder.  And then we cheered loudly once they were finally back inside a hive, the workers fanning letting us know that the queen was safely inside.  This is a first for us.  Our last two swarms were too high in trees for us to catch them.  The rest of the weekend’s free time (otherwise known as Job’s naptime) was mostly spent looking through our hives.  The swarm originated from Lark Rise, the same hive that swarmed late last summer.  The really cool thing is that we received a message from another local beekeeper that she was looking for a frame of brood and hopefully some eggs because one of her newly installed hives was queenless.  We were able to supply her with not only a frame of brood, but one complete with a couple of capped queen cells from Lark Rise.  It felt great to be able to share.  I sure hope she ends up with a queen for her colony!

So now we find ourselves with four hives!  We spent Sunday afternoon with our Candleford hive, hoping that some small changes we made will discourage them from swarming as well.  Ultimately though, the bees will be bees and we’re just happy to follow along.

Last year, as an experiment, we planted strawberries in gutters that we attached to our garden fence.  Jonny took them down in late fall and we covered them with straw to overwinter.  This weekend they got put back on the fence, having almost all survived the winter.  Strawberry season is just around the corner, and I’m excited!


  1. Ginny, maybe I’m not remembering very well, but I don’t recall you sharing about your honey. How much have you been able to jar up for your pantry and just how delicious is it to eat honey from your own hives? Is it as noticeable as eating fresh from your own garden? Congrats on all the success with the hives this year!

  2. I love reading about your bee adventures. Especially because I know I will never be brave enough to try this myself! So glad you got your swarm back, and those springtime blooms…beautiful!

  3. I’m wondering if you use any mesh covering to protect the strawberries from bird pillage. I have contemplated using a hanging system on my deck because it is so sunny, but I’m nervous the birds will always be hurting themselves by dive bombing my big windows close by. I never thought of rain gutters either. Ingenuity.

    I’m glad you caught your bees.

    • I’ve never had a problem with birds getting my strawberries in my regular garden (although they do get all my blueberries!), but thinking about it, I bet it could be a problem in the gutters. This will be the first year that we get strawberries from the plants in the gutters, so I’ll have to update how it goes.

  4. jennifer says:

    Dear Ginny,
    Can you tell me a good supplier for bees and kits? My husband is wanting to start and I am a little daunted and just want some good recommendations. Thanks and God bless, Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer! Are you in my part of the country? We order our bees from an apiary in TN that raises bees organically We also figure that the climate there is similar to ours here in VA, although many people in our area purchase packages of bees trucked up from GA. Do you know how you want to keep bees? We do things a little differently than most people and that influences our supplies and the bees we purchase. Have you checked out Michael Bush’s website? Some good online suppliers for hives are Miller Bees, Walter T Kelley, and Brushy Mtn. We purchase our supplies from a shop about an hour from us called Virginia Bee Supply. The fellow there doesn’t approve of our hippie ways, but we like to support his business!

  5. Your photography is great! We are beekeepers as well. We lost 4 hives last year…..frustrating, but are going to give it another shot. I was at work the other day, and in between patients, I slipped in my office for something, when I heard my cellphone vibrate, pulled it out of my purse, and there was a text about a swarm 3 miles from my job. I ripped off my lab coat, grabbed my purse, keys, and started running to my car with plans on getting the swarm…lol, then I came to my senses, before clocking out, that this will take more than a few minutes, and my patients need me more than the swarm does (but I do need the swarm) My point. Beekeeping can be very exciting, spontaneous, and definitely changes plans! Glad you got yours!

  6. This is amazing! Loved seeing the photos….. we got our bees this weekend! Sophie installed the second package on her own….. very fun stuff.

  7. I am drinking in the sight of your spring blooms. So desperately waiting for spring to arrive here in Iowa. Snow overnight and cold, dreariness predicted all week with below freezing lows. But being tied to/affected by the whims of nature makes everything seem so much more connected and real, I suppose. Very glad your bee capture was successful! The strawberries in the hanging gutters is quite genius.

  8. barbara woods says:

    it’s suppose to freeze Tuesday night here in Georgia, hope you can cover your plants

  9. Holy cow, Johnny is so brave to be holding that swarm!

  10. The bees love you! You must be a Queenie, (Larkrise to Candleford). They must know you’ll love them back.

  11. Ginny, how exciting to have them back, my daughter and I loved looking through the photos. Keeping bees is definitely a fantasy of mine …. Maybe one day!

  12. Wow great pistures. When such things happen tpo me, I’m always too busy doing something to remember the camera until later. Happy that you finally caugth a warm. Have you given it a thougth to mayde buy a new queen for the family? or don’t you do this your place?

  13. A high ladder and a million bees? I’m hyperventilating in a panic and utterly fascinated at the same time! So glad you were able to get them back in a hive (and that I wasn’t involved, LOL). Here’s to much honey and pollination!

  14. That looked very scary to me! Yesterday I killed a very large European Hornet that is said to kill honeybees. I couldn’t believe how large this thing was. All I could think about was how much it would hurt if it stung someone.

    Love the purple pics.

  15. This was a really cool thing to see! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I look forward to the day we have our own property and can have bees!

  16. amazing, what a feat! and good luck with your strawberries, that will be sooo nice once berry season comes.

  17. Oh how great you were able to catch them. Still waiting on my bees, and will definitely be checking in to get some pointers from you all when a swarm happens for me.
    By the way, your pictures are truly stunning.

  18. Yay! Glad you caught them! I did a spring cleaning of my hive this weekend and they’re doing amazingly well (we had such a harsh winter – I’m surprised!). In fact, I think I may need to do a split this spring before my gals decide to swarm. Beautiful pictures by the way, Ginny!

  19. Que entrada tan bonita, besos desde España

  20. Wow! I am not sure I could keep bees, looks to intense.

  21. Thanking God with you!!!

  22. We have that bunny plate in the first picture! It was my husband’s as a boy!

  23. You had an exciting weekend. Glad you were able to retrieve the bees. Don’t you wish you knew what was going on in their little bee minds so you could prevent it from happening to begin with? 😉

    Love those strawberries. They certainly are loyal little plants. We’ve had them for years and years, all started from six little plants. Unfortunately the chipmunks take nibbles out of most of them. I wonder if they would get in the gutters. Probably. I have been thinking about starting plants in gutters because bunnies eat everything I grow unless it’s a perennial they dislike. All vegetables are game. I am thinking about lettuce and spinach in gutters.

    Have a great week!

  24. Yay! I’m so glad Johnny caught them. The pictures are just wonderful!

  25. Such beautiful pictures dear mama! I love when plans change…. even better when they change for the better! I find your beekeeping adventures fascinating!

    Samantha Disch (Wild Maple Wool)

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