Where do I start?? The phone rings. A distant relative, who is also a beekeeper calls and says "my hives were attacked by bears last night and I need some help getting it sorted out". I told him I would be there shortly after grabbing some gear and empty nucs from my house.
I arrive to see that he had no electric fence. One hive, which I will call #1 was intact. Two deeps that he had screwed pieces of wood to hold it together along with a ratchet strap. Huge gashes where the bear had tried to rip it open.
Hive #2 was all busted apart. The bear had dragged both deeps to the edge of the woods and consumed about half of each. There was lots of brood left with nurse bees all over it. About 10 frames of brood and honey with the diligent nurse bees still protecting the brood. We proceeded to rubber band the brood into the frames I had brought and divided them equally between two 5 frame nucs.
Then we notice a large, about 5-6# swarm hanging on a branch in a pine tree about 30 yards away.
We had a little accident as Charlie was holding up the deep and the bottom board, which I thought were attached to each other, so when I shook the bees into the box the propolis that was holding them together gave out and the bees all dropped to the ground.
After a few more shakes of the branch we finally got the queen into the hive and let them sit there while we loaded my truck with Hive #1 and the two nucs with brood, bees and honey.
I put Hive #1 in my outyard with the weaker of the two nucs and put the swarm hive and the stronger of the nucs at my home yard. It was getting dark so I just laid branches across all of the entrances, had a cocktail and went home to bed quite exhausted.
Today dawned sunny and warm so I decided to sort things out a bit. I went and opened Hive #1, which had not been opened since last fall, and quickly realized that it was overcrowded and at least six frames in the top deep had capped swarm cells on it. Since I had two queenless nucs I thought I was lucky and carefully started cutting off a few cells and putting them in cell protectors so I could install them in the nucs. As I was cutting off swarm cell #2 the one right next to it had a queen hatching out. She was chewing open the end of the cell. I quickly grabbed my queen catcher, cut the cell off and put it in the catcher. I set it aside in a bucket of burr comb. I was going to put the frames with the remaining swarm cells back in the hive when I started to hear a queen piping from inside the hive. Knowing I had a queen in there I scraped off the mess on the bottoms of the remaining frames. I then took three frames of brood, making sure I didn't have a queen on them, and shook the nurse bees into the weak nuc at this yard to give it a boost and to lessen the booming population of this hive. I put on two medium supers and buttoned up the hive. Hive #1 done.
I then turned around and found my virgin queen had fully emerged from the swarm cell and she was a large dark beauty for an unmated queen. I set her in a box in my truck. I then installed two of the harvested queen cells from Hive #1 in the nuc at that yard. With the added nurse bees and a bit of luck hopefully this nuc becomes queenright in a few days if not hours.
I drive back to my homeyard and take the queen in the queen catcher and lay her on the tops of the frames of the queenless nuc. The bees are attentive and not showing any signs of balling her so I just release her and she scurries down between the frames. Fingers crossed she mates and becomes an egg laying machine.
A quick check of the deep that we hived the swarm in shows they are already a bit overcrowded. I pull a deep with ten drawn frames from the garage and plop it on the swarm hive. Within minutes they are working the frames. Swarm hive buttoned up.
One phone call and I end up with four more hives. Isn't beekeeping fun?