An unexpected arrival

I’d left some equipment behind in the old location I used to keep bees, and hadn’t got around to moving it yet. Some new visitors took advantage of this des res – a brood box with a few frames in, a floor, and an inspection board acting as a roof, all piled up on top of a load of empty equipment. They’re against a wall and have a hedge and trees the other side, providing shelter from the Cornish rain, and – in the last few days – the Cornish sun!

I was surprised at how large a swarm it was. A couple of weeks on, the brood box is full of bees. On my first inspection, I looked for eggs but found none. I filled in the empty spaces in the box with new frames of foundation. I inspected again four days later and was happy to spot larvae.

The next job to do is move them to the same location as my other bees. The swarm is especially lucky as my sole remaining colony, headed up by Queen Oilel (named by reader Disperser), seems to be queenless (or at least, she has stopped laying if she’s there). Sorry Emilio, your Queen didn’t last long.

The swarm before I filled in the gaps with frames

I discovered a few fat slugs living in the corner of the brood box, which I ejected for the bees, using my hive tool to pick them up and gently place them elsewhere. I then had to change my hive tool, as unfortunately I discovered bees get stuck to slug slime! Which is presumably why the slugs get away with it.

The bees have been taking advantage of the beautiful sunshine after the rain. On my last visit they had bulging light grey pollen baskets – I believe from blackberry brambles. Honey bees and bumbles can also be spotted enjoying clover at the moment.


In my garden, campanula has been very popular, attracting honey bees but also more unusual small solitary bees a third of the size of the big honeys. If you look closely below you can spot a honey bee nestled in one of the flowers. The campanula self-seeds and drapes itself daintily everywhere, seemingly needing barely any soil at all.


About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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13 Responses to An unexpected arrival

  1. Somerset beek says:

    Hi Emily! Congratulations on your new visitors! I’ve had a very swarmy season here in West Somerset and hoping it stops soon as I’ve run out of equipment. Not all those with virgin queens early in the season managed to mate but I hope to end the season with the same number of colonies as I started with. And honey? Well we’ll see! I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  2. What a marvelous surprise! I hope these bees are especially nice, seeing as they came to you and all. 😉


  3. Arriving of their own choosing is a good omen. I think I would consider them special. Not that all the bees are special but I sometimes I find I am not impartial. We have had such an unusual amount of rain that we have loads of clover too which is unusual at this time in July. I think the U.K. is experiencing similar weather so they should build up well going into winter. Amelia


  4. thelivesofk says:

    Wonderful surprise! I wish you and the bees a successful year. – Kourosh


  5. disperser says:

    So, let me get this straight . . . you’re bringing in a usurper? Hmm …

    I have confidence Oilel will rise again and restore her lineage!

    Although, if she’s anything like me, she probably said something like “I don’t need this! Let someone else procreate.”

    Speaking of which, are any workers laying eggs? Could it be Oilel is on a brood break?


    • Emily Scott says:

      You have picked up some beekeeping knowledge along the way! No workers laying eggs yet, but uncannily I spotted Oilel yesterday after all. She hadn’t stepped up her laying unfortunately, but she’s there alright. Perhaps she’s on strike!


    • disperser says:

      After years of reading this blog, I’m practically an expert.

      I think Oilel is gearing up for a major egg offensive . . . I hope.


  6. Did you identify the small bees on the campanula?


    • Emily Scott says:

      That’s beyond my bee knowledge sadly. I’ve taken photos of them before and asked on the BWARS group, but people could only say the group they belonged to, not the exact species without having a specimen to inspect. I would rather let the bees carry on enjoying the flowers.


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