Might There Bee a Swarm on the Horizon?

This year I wanted to be ready for any swarms that come around. I noticed that some bees were flying around, like as if they were looking for a home, so I got to it and decided to start readying the second hand Langstroth hives I had stored away (and that needed some cleaning). I modified them into simple top bar style hives. I did this by just removing the wire where the wax sheet normally sits against and along the top bar creating a groove (if there isn’t one there already – usually is for the wax sheet to fit into at the top) and then applying some bees wax along the groove with a large 100ml syringe (available from most chemists).

Not really a line, more like a flow 😉

I put these hives at quite a distance from where the existing hives are, where I guess you could say they’re set up is quite conventional in the sense that the hives are placed in one particular area and in lines (like maybe 20 hives or more, some belonging to me and most belonging to Harry, my beekeeper – a little exchange deal we have). Although that is good for commercial set ups I wanted to try having the hives scattered around in various locations to see they would each fare in different locations and help me understand what spots might be better than others for them. For the moment I’m not so interested in the convenience of harvesting all at once. I’d rather just take as I need, and also experimenting with trying to create something resilient.

I looked for places that would be shady and reasonably well sheltered from the wind while trying to comply to the rule of making sure that they were either south facing (towards the sun) or east facing (where the sun comes up) and of course making sure they have a clear flight path. Inside the boxes I put some old comb and along with that some honey, to attract any scout bees. The way it works apparently is that bees from all over come to steal the honey. When bees are looking for a new home and they swarm, some of the scouts ‘remember’ the hive location, and are quite likely to choose this in preference to other holes in trees etc.

Facing the rising sun. Runway cleared and ready for landing.

I read that in many places that when a colony is preparing to swarm they will travel great distances to locate new nectar, pollen and water sources’ so it seems favourable to have the hives at least as much of a distance as possible from each other, especially if the intent is to get back some of your own.

I also read that there were some studies showing that placing a swarm box several feet off the ground (ranging from 5ft – 9ft) produces the best results however it seems that many beekeepers have had swarms move into empty equipment that is just laying on the ground so this doesn’t seem like it’s reliable data and probably not worth the effort, especially if it’s not an easy thing to achieve, however I do like the look of some swarm boxes I’ve seen for sale, that can be hung up in trees. I found this one and I thought perhaps it could be made quite simply with some kind of paper mache (newspaper and flour/water paste) using a bucket as a mold and then coating it with bees wax. Something I’d definitely like to try anyway …
Photo courtesy of www.honeybeesuite.com
Most sites recommended rubbing lemon grass oil on the inside of the boxes, for inviting and attracting bees to the vacant hive. Harry also suggested rubbing some fresh bee balm (melissa officinalis) or lucia lima (aloysia citrodora) leaves on the inner hive walls. The lemony scent of both of these also attracts swarms because it has components of queen bee pheromone in them. I’ve not been able to find any of these however so I’m resorting to the basics of old hive boxes, with some old comb in them and some honey.

Earth Neighbours Web Site Live!

Well, I figured that with the cold and wet weather I may as well be doing something productive so as well as finishing the site for Quinta das Moitas I also took the leap and put the web site together for Earth Neighbours. It’s the idea that really excited me when I first came here and started noticing all the abandoned land around my own. I wrote an article about it and it seemed to get quite a good response.

I was also then able to get it published on Permaculture News, with more good responses so I thought maybe I should try and put a web site together and really put the idea to the test.

It’s now live for viewing here:


Of course I’d love to see this idea grow, not only here on my own land, but all around. I really feel that there are a lot of people everywhere that are beginning to wake up to a calling and search for what it is they really need to live free and be happy and for a lot of them it means getting back to nature, back to the land.

With so many good initiatives happening out there I thought I would add my own to the mix. Something that can be used to help facilitate a connection between people looking for land and people that already have land or are surrounded by abandoned land. Something that I feel there exists a need for. It’s also an idea that I can see connecting with other initiatives to help the synergy of the whole ‘back to the land’ movement.

Earth Neighbours Website in English

The connection of course is the intention behind coming together as a community and although things like economics, social well being and many other things come into play within this, for me the primary focus is to see people joining hands together to help rebuild the earth (soil) and reforest the land. Something that for me I see as a priority right now, especially with the climatic (and climactic) changes occurring and to which I feel all hands should be put to positive work. Mãos à Obra!

Earth Neighbours Website em Portugues

Funny that as I was checking through the spelling of the word ‘climatic’ I see the following as one of the definitions in the Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Resulting from or influenced by the climate rather than the soil.

A fine example of the disconnection and misunderstanding going on today with regards to this topic.

Quinta das Moitas Web Site Live!

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to not only get my web site live (with the help of some financing from my Good Sister) but also translated into Portuguese (with the help of Google Translate).


I’d like to thank my Sister for helping me with the financing of the domain registration and the hosting and to my shining light of a friend Sara who inspired me to designing the rest of the site on my own with the logo that she gifted me with.

Quinta das Moitas

If anyone wishes to provide any feedback, comments or language corrections please feel free to either add something in the comment box below or contact me via the contact form on the site.