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Swarm of bees causes buzz online in 'freecycle' advert
Buy this photo » Bee-keeper Malcolm Bollard who collected a swarm of bees which had been advertised on Freegle. Pictures: OX61462 Jon Lewis and OX61405 Antony Moore
MOST people use “free-cycling” websites to get rid of an old kettle or pick up a second-hand chair – not to offload a swarm of bees in their garden.
But Rosie and John Marshall initially didn’t know where else to turn when bees nested in a branch of their fir tree. But then they hit on the idea of putting an advert on the Vale of White Horse Freegle website.
Within hours the post was causing a buzz, with two bee keepers offering to collect the swarm and more still pointing the couple in the direction of the British Beekeepers’ Association.
In the end the bees were left in the capable hands of Malcolm Bollard, a beekeeper who lives 10 minutes away from the couple in Abingdon.
He said: “I spotted the bees and immediately thought ‘that’s for me’.”
Usually the easiest way to get a swarm out of a tree is to saw off the branch, but Mr and Mrs Marshall didn’t want their tree pruned.
So Mr Bollard went to plan B. He turned up at the couple’s Kingston Close home last Monday evening with a cardboard box.
His plan was to pop his box on top of the hedge beneath the tree and tie a rope around the branch. “Then,” Mr Bollard said, “you shake like mad so that hopefully you end up with a box full of bees.”
The plan worked. Mr Bollard then used a “bee brush” to gently persuade the rest of the colony into the container.
Finally, he had to get the bees from the box into a hive.
“I had taken a hive with me,” he said, “and rather sneakily put some honey in the hive as well which I thought would entice them in.
“I thought if they started eating honey they would become nice and quiet.”
Once the bees were in the hive he took them to his home off Radley Road where he says they are happily exploring his garden, which already has two bee colonies.
Mrs Marshall, 34, a nurse, said: “We saw them a week ago, and assumed they were wasps. It wasn’t until John was stung at the weekend and then pulled the sting out we realised it wasn’t wasps.”
Mr Marshall then thought of using the website to give them a good home.
Mrs Marshall said: “He wanted the bees to stay local.
“He is an active member of Abingdon Carbon Cutters, and anything that keeps the planets in balance is for him, and bees are a part of that.”
Mr Bollard, who is retired, rescued his first two beehives from a friend who was off to the United States.
He said: “I don’t know whether I’m opportunistic or just a mug.”
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