They Call Me Swarm-Catcher!

Not a very good swarm-catcher, but a swarm-catcher nonetheless. (Not sure if I succeeded in catching them, or simply waylaying them en route to bigger and better things.)

I just might be eligible for the Least Elegant Swarm-Catching In Beekeeping History Award and will confess all the inglorious details soon. On the other hand, I have experienced the exhilarating terror and fascination of the swarm-catching adventure. It was Sensurround x 25,000+---the approximate number of bees (and I am being conservative here) I managed to provoke out of a peaceful, silent, minding-its-own-beeswax swarm.

The photos below were taken by my intrepid pal, Karen, who worked with me throughout the whole process and did some great documenting. Below, you see me spraying a little sugar syrup on the outer part of the cluster to calm the bees down a bit before startling the living hell out of them by violently shaking the branch they were so happily resting on into a large box awaiting them below.

Moments later, their peace disrupted, I found myself enveloped in a torrential rainfall of bees. Many landed in the box as planned; many more wound up in the air and, as you can see, madly tried to dissuade me from my folly. It was frightening, but also transcendent to stand inside a force of nature in a well-made beek suit. I must also take my hat off to my cheaply made Old Navy bluejeans which protected me remarkably well from the justifiably defensive onslaught.

That thing covered with bees on the right side of this shot? That would be my arm.
Yes, I wound up with a few minor stings—and honestly, it was good to get that over with, because I'm not nearly as nervous about getting stung now. Also, I have learned that the real problem with bee stings is less the pain of the sting than the murderous itch that reminds you for days on end not to hassle bees. Actually, given how obnoxious my incursions were, I think the bees went easy on me and once again showed their essentially nonviolent temperament.

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