Last Saturday our gardening was once again interrupted when we spotted a swarm, our second of the season, clustered on a branch at the edge of a thicket on the eastern border of our apiary. As we had done a little over a week before, we hastily dropped everything to suit up and grab our equipment to catch the swarm and hive it before it decided to fly off and take up residence away from us.
Take 1 Feeling like old hands at this swarm capture lark, we moved with confidence. Up the step ladder to shake the cluster into a cardboard box and back down the step ladder to pour the bees into the nucleus hive on the ground. Repeat as needed.

Unfortunately the bees we caught decided they would rather depart the nuc and recluster in their original location.

Take 2 Could we have missed getting the queen? It seemed unlikely since we had caught the main mass of the cluster. The bees were surely just taunting the beekeepers as bees will do. Undeterred we climbed the ladder, cut off the bee-laden branch, and carried it to the nuc. Shaking the cluster into the nuc, we disposed of the branch to deny them a familiar distraction from the home we were offering.

The bees summarily left the nuc and reclustered on another branch deeper in the thicket and higher up.

Take 3 Trading the nuc box for another that was a litte more propolyzed, we added a wee drop of lemony scented lure, just for good measure. Then hacking our way to their location, leaving a mess of twigs, branches, and entire saplings in the yard, we again set up the ladder to cut the branch on which they were clustered.

Actually we set up two ladders. They had clustered at the fork of a thick, long-dead branch. While one of us held the branch immobile the other trimmed off excess length and finally cut away the fork. Carefully carrying it to the nuc we once again shook the bees into the nuc on the ground.

This time we were rewarded with a few fanners at the entrance, bums in the air, wings spreading the homing scent of Nasonov. A small tide of bees walked into the nuc and we felt quite pleased until we noticed the growing tide leaving.

The bees left the nuc and reclustered on a sapling trunk yet deeper in the thicket and yet higher up, quite out of range of the step ladders we had.
Take 4 We paused in our relentless yet feckless chop-and-shake pursuit to have a little think albeit without the cuppa tea and came up with a cunning plan.

Instead of felling the tree, we partially cut through the trunk at a little more than ladder height and then carefully bent it down to be roughly parallel to the ground. We now moved the ladder under the cluster and placed the nuc on the ladder shelf so that the bees were directly above the open nuc. Now you will not be expecting the next bit but we shook the bees into the nuc one more time.

At last the bees seemed to become cooperative. The face of the nuc was covered with fanning bees and fliers were landing all over it to walk into the entrance. We were elated by our hard-won success but there would be one more brief shock.

As we complacently watched the bees entering the nuc, we remarked on the way our each attempt at capture had sent them ever deeper and ever higher into the thicket, whereupon we spied a cluster of bees impenetrably deeper in the thicket and impossibly higher. Our spirits fell for a few seconds until we noticed that the surface of the cluster seemed oddly boiling. Over the next several minutes it diminished as its bees joined the rest of the swarm in the nuc, abandoning this last bivouac. Elated once more, we went to the house for dinner and a rest, returning to collect the nuc at dusk when all the bees would be within.

And so the nuc, wee Angharad reborn, has joined the full hives in our apiary.