How did we get here?Posted: April 24, 2012
If you have overcome your inclination, and not been overcome by it,
you have a reason to rejoice.
One afternoon when I was five years old, I was playing with my sister and a friend on a little island in the middle of the creek in our back yard. The older kids were fishing, I imagine, and I was just trying to be involved in what they were doing. My mom came out to check on me and I got very busted for wearing my new school loafers out in the muck.
Angry that I had to go inside and miss all of the fun, I was stomping through the woods to make my point known to anyone that was paying attention. Somehow during my theatrical flounce, my hair got tangled in a low tree branch. Clearly, I was already in a poor mood and I imagine I did some more stomping and flailing and guess what… I stepped on a bee’s nest.
Now, I guess I should give you some sort of proper information, in that these were actually ground wasps and not bees.. but to my five-year old brain, a bee was a bee.
So there I was standing in a bee’s nest with my hair caught in a tree screaming my head off. Someone freed me of the tree and carried me into the house. I couldn’t tell you if it was my mother or my sister. My mom hurried around to make me a bee sting paste and while she was working on that, something horrible happened.
The story goes I was in full screaming freak out mode when I got silent and with large eyes and said, “There’s something in my shirt.” Sure enough three bees flew out of my clothes and I was in hysterics all over again.
From that day forward I was completely terrified of bees. All flying insects that stung were bees, all were mean, and all were out to get me. I was sure of it.
So how does that girl end up in charge of two hives of bees?
I have no stinkin’ clue.
In January, I read an article on top bar hives on Mother Earth New’s facebook page and I was hooked. I started reading everything about bees that I could get my hands on, and it quickly became apparent that I was going to have to do this.
Soon after I joined a local bee club and then I ordered two packages of bees. At the time we were in full chicken preparation mode and so bees seemed a long way off. Time sure flies when you are busy doing other things. Before I knew it, the bees were a couple of weeks off and they needed a home.
Frank and I worked for two weeks on the hives. They weren’t terribly difficult or anything, but as we’ve learned in the last few months. Everything takes twice as long as we expect it to. The hives were no different.
We got the hives finished and in place the day that we picked up the bees. Nothing like getting things done at the last-minute… but hey, we did it!
On Sunday, the bees hung out in the shade of the yurt most of the day while I walked through the last few preparations to ready them for their big move. I did a lot of checking and re-checking. I was nervous and excited. Nervous and excited. I would get a huge feeling of giddy excitement. ‘Bees! I have bees!’, then the nerves would kick in.
I had visions of myself running screaming from the hives and all of my bees chasing me. I could see myself freezing and Frank having to take care of hiving our new charges. I had terrible visions of my body being completely covered with bees while they tried to consume me. Luckily for me, I saw ‘The Savage Bees‘ when I was younger so I had plenty of horrifying images to conjure up any time my nerves necessitated one.
At some point on Sunday, I just made myself stop indulging these thoughts. I had read up on this as much as I could. I watched numerous Youtube videos of people hiving their bees, I had talked to experienced beeks about how to do it and I got all of my questions answered. I was as prepared as I was ever going to be.
I decided that I would just go ahead and hive the girls a few hours early….. I just had to get it done. I followed my rehearsed plan one step after another and before I knew it, I was done. There were no stings, no tears or freezing. I was not chased off into the sunset by a humming black cloud.
For the most part, everything went according to plan. The bees are in their hives and they have some food. I’ve checked on them and they seem like they are doing OK. In the next week, I need to go back to the hives and do a few things:
- I need to feed them. When I put them in the hives, I gave them the sugar can that they came with. I have two different feeding options in mind. I think I’ll try a different one with each hive and see which one works better.
- The top bars are not all into place as the bees were kind of everywhere when I installed them. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get them moved to where I want them and have the hive put together properly.
- Queen check – make sure the queens have been released from their cages and see if I can find them.
I’ve been drawn to the hives many times in the last two days. Watching them is my new favorite pastime. I am officially a beekeeper. I still don’t know what I’m doing, or maybe even how I’m doing it…. but one thing is for sure.
I’m doing it!