The Birds and The Bees

Back in February, I wanted to start my second batch of hard cider. I ordered five gallons of unfiltered apple juice from my neighborhood grocery, but they messed up the shipment  After finally getting the juice,  two weeks later, brewing was slow going. The first stage of the fermentation process usually only lasts around ten to fifteen days, but due to the late Spring, it took an entire month.
Either way though, there are now 66 bottles of hard apple cider carbonating/in stage two of the fermentation process in my cellar. Bottoms up! (in another two weeks, that is)

I ordered bees for my top bar hive, back in early March, for $80. It's best to start a new hive at the beginning of the nectar flow (the start of Spring), which tends to be around the first week of April, in Upstate South Carolina. But I was wait listed until April 13th.
This past week, I received an email from the bee supplier in Seneca that they would be pushing back all orders an additional week, putting my pickup date at April 20th. But what was I to do?

Then, this past weekend, I got a call from my neighbor. His cousin had five swarms in his yard! So, I grabbed a bucket and some leather gloves (I had yet to buy a smoker, head garb, or bee suit) and drove to their house.
The largest of the swarms had already flown off to form a new hive, by the time I arrived, but there were still four clusters, all on a single bush. Not knowing whether they each contained a queen or not, I hedged my bets and took the three larger afterswarms: one in a bucket, one in a cardboard box, and one in a big piece of tupperware.

After placing the bees in the hive, Saturday evening, it was quite clear by Sunday morning that there were indeed two queens, each had their own cluster of worker and drone bees surrounding them. If I had another hive, I could have transplanted one of the clusters, but I only have one hive. So I decided to let nature and natural selection take its course.
By the end of the afternoon, the queen in the smaller of the two clusters had either been forced out of the hive, along with those still loyal to her, or killed. The second, smaller cluster was gone, and the larger, remaining swarm seemed to get even bigger.

Nature gifted me with bees a week early, instead of a week late (and saved me a solid $80, to boot).

On Sunday, while sitting and watching my bees, my cat slinked on by. The Mouser wasn't carrying the normal prey of her namesake but rather a bird. The tipi cat had finally, after so much effort, caught one.
And not just some flightless chick, but a full grown adult that would have stood a half foot tall.

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