I've just spent a couple of hours winkling a swarm out of a neighbour's hedge. I put a swarm box upside-down on top of the hedge, and applied smoke to the bottom of the swarm. The idea is that they move up into the box. They moved, very slowly, but they went diagonally, into the depths of the hedge, and I ended up with a third in the box, a third on the outside, and a third still in the hedge. I found the queen on the outside, picked her up, and put her in the box, with the lid on. That made all the difference; I knocked the bees in the hedge into the air, and before long they were all in the box. They're now in an empty hive.
I split the original hives last week, so I now have five; two with laying queens, two with virgins, which should have hatched over the weekend, and one with a queen which is an unknown quantity. The swarm is probably a cast with a virgin, but it's a reasonable size, and it's been hanging in the hedge for at least a week, so the queen has had time to mate.
Vitally, I have plenty of young drones from Hive 5, which have hatched in the last couple of weeks. It takes 12-14 days before they become fertile, so they're at the right point in their lives. It's easy to arrange for new queens, as colonies produce them any time you take the queen away, assuming they have eggs or newly hatched larvae available. Drones are hard; they raise them when they want, not when it suits the beekeeper.
The beans are at last starting to produce; I've been pleasantly surprised by the runner bean 'Black Magic'. I heard that it was stringy, and had assumed it was going to be a drying bean. In fact, the young beans are stringless and sweet-tasting. I don't like the larger beans anyway, so it's a question of picking them at about six inches long.
My rhubarb got a first at the site show last week; I haven't been well since, but I'll put a few pics up later.
23 August. I went back to check this afternoon, and the swarm was back in the hedge. I've come across that before; they sometimes seem to get wedded to the idea of hanging in a specific spot, and won't stay put in a hive. I'll try again tomorrow.
24 August I didn't have time to extract the swarm from the hedge again yesterday, so I went back today. Naturally, it was gone.
23 hours ago