I am a first-year beekeeper. I planned on eventually getting to this subject in later posts, but the bees are pretty much demanding all of my attention at the moment. Point blank: SWARM!
Our top-bar hive had become overcrowded. The bees did some prep work (that had gone unnoticed by our untrained "newbee" beekeepers' eyes), then 60% of them left Sunday around noon with the queen (the remaining 40% of our pretty Italian bees in the original hive are busy making a new queen).
They usually swarm in a cluster around the queen on a tree branch. In this case, it was approximately 30' up. We managed, rather unexpectedly and while obtaining my first sting, to get the swarm to gather on the side of the very garbage can in which we attempted to catch them.
All of my time right now is going into figuring out what to do about the most pressing situation at hand: the swarm. I'll be attempting to build another top bar hive today to house the swarm. Just a bit of labor with not the best tools, so I will post again as soon as possible.
Update: right before posting this, the swarm took off. They didn't want the Langstroth hive (borrowed last night from a local beekeeper) that we placed very obviously for them to choose. :-(
I'm forcing myself to make the Small Choice to look on the bright side: I will have more time to construct another top bar hive before the next swarm.
This has freed up my manic Monday for more calming tasks ...