Continued from Bring On The BEES! Part 1:
8. Then Get Them: Here’s where it gets interesting. I was teaching a class last Saturday morning and noticed a message on my phone around 9 am. I listened to it around 2 pm, after the students had left and I had cleaned up and was ready for my three-ish hour after class nap. “Hi, This Is John. I’ve been trying to reach you. I’ve got your bees. You can come and get ’em today anytime.”
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! I let out a silent scream and shot out the door propelled by the triple shot of adrenaline that was coursing through my blood stream.
“HONEY???? Can you whip up a couple beehives in the next two hours??????? The BEES are here!!!!!”
I love my husband. He is amazing. He can build anything. But, I don’t recall him ever being on such an urgent deadline to build two of something he’d never built before.
We hatched a plan that while he built the hives, the boys and I would jump in the car and drive to Buckley’s to get beeswax (to attract the little buggers to their new abodes) and then head up to Black Forest to pick up the bees.
Pick. Up. The. Bees.
How does one DO that? Do bees come in a bag? A can? A box? Do they escape? Will they fly out and sting me or fly in my face while I’m driving my car? Do we need to drive the truck and have them in the back to keep us safe from stinging and swatting while driving?
Despite our urgency however, The Animal Whisperer and I agreed our afternoon coffee and chocolate chips was a must. After sharing a rather calm, enjoyable five minutes together, he jumped on the computer to figure out the best way to build a hive and we jumped in the car.
Now, really, why in any normal world would a person NEED the beehives ready BEFORE bringing home the bees? We proved it was not necessary. Might be helpful, yes. But not necessary.
(I’ve already figure out the title of my new book: “How To Homestead NOT By The Book.”)
The boys and I arrived to Buckley’s and through my permanent smile of hysterical disbelief at the impending bee ownership situation, I told Allison we needed beeswax for the bees that were going to be riding home in my car and put into their not-yet-built hives in a couple of hours. She wondered if The Animal Whisperer would build hives to sell at her store. Why, YES! I told her! I’m sure once he builds two, he can build more!
I’ll let him in on his new business when I get home.
Back on the road, the boys and I had road trip milkshakes in the car, special for the occasion. In my mind, you can’t really go get bees unless you have some really good tasting but pretty much bad for you junk food on the way there. It just makes the trip that much more enjoyable.
Thirty minutes later, we showed up in Black Forest. As instructed, I pulled into the house with the Two, White, Ford Pickups in front of it, even though the address was #73 instead of #83. I figured the bee man had just mis-spoken when giving me directions.
Oops. #73 had Two, White, Chevy Pickups in front of it and, I KNOW a Chevy man does NOT accidentally call his trucks Fords. Wrong House.
One driveway north was #83. Two White Ford Pickups and four hundred beehives stacked everywhere. Must be the right place.
We waited while some other bee picker-upper backed out of the small driveway and watched someone else park on the road. Hoppin’ place!
As we got out of the car, I warned the boys (in my infinite knowledge of honey bees flying around everywhere): Bee careful. (pun intended)
I chose not to let on to the bee man that I was ill-equipped to deal with bees, not being one of the Colorado Springs masses of future beekeepers that has attended the oft referred to and always sold out Bee Keeping Class every March. I did sign up in one of the years referred to in #3, but for some unrecalled reason, did not attend.
He mentioned that he’d been calling the wrong phone number for three or four days, leaving messages for me, until the kind person on the other end called him back and said s/he was not me. How he figured out the right number, I don’t know. As we loaded them in the car, he warned that the bees were probably low on their travel food and we should spray them with sugar water when we get home.
“1 to 1, sugar to water.” Got it.
“Anything else we should do?” Hoping he might enlighten me on how on earth we get the swarms of bees (12,000 of them per box) into their new hives.
“Nope. Just introduce them like usual.”
“OK! Thanks!” Smile, pretend, wonder. Like usual. Yes, like usual. We’ll just do it like usual. Of course.
24,000 bees in the back of the car. No, they didn’t escape. But they buzzed really loud. It certainly was enough to make a person just a little anxious while driving home.
9. Then Finish Their Home: Just like when we brought our first two goats home, the bees came home to almost completed housing.
The Animal Whisperer had been working his tail off, making the first hive out of the dresser drawers and the second out of an old futon frame. But, two hours just isn’t enough for even him to finish two bee hives. The dresser drawer hive was up and running by dark, and, as if we had planned it with an abundance of previous knowledge, we “introduced” the first box of bees to their hive around 8:30 pm. Night time, we learned when I Googled “how to get the bees into their hive” on my phone after the box was opened and the bees weren’t moving, was a great time to introduce the bees to their hive because they are less active. Less prone to get mad and sting. The Animal Whisperer took the top off of Hive #1 and shook. 3/4 of the bees fell out into the hive, the other 1/4 stayed put.
Shouldn’t there be a queen? Bee hives need a queen, right? But where is she? Maybe inside the can? No! Inside the little queen bee box that the masses of bees were holding onto!
But, how in the heck do you get HER out? She’s in this little tiny box with a fine, wire mesh window. With bees stuck all over it.
Another question for Google: “How to get the queen out of her little box”. The answer appeared: leave her in the box inside the hive for a few days so the bees can get to know her. “They don’t know her from Adam,” it said. (I have always wondered who Adam is?)
The Animal Whisperer screwed her box’s metal handle to one of the bars in the hive and there she stayed. Surrounded (hopefully) by her newly adoring 11,999 bees.
We didn’t have to tackle outing the queen in the dark that night.
The other box of bees spent the night in the garage, after a good dousing of sugar water spray, we hoped they’d be alive in the morning.
They were. Phew.
And most of the other group had made it into Hive #1 overnight, so there was only a little morning shake-the-bees-out to be done.
The Animal Whisperer finished the futon hive, Hive #2, by mid morning and dropped 1/4 of the bees into their new hive. He was now feeling like an expert and knew just what to do with the queen. He attached her box onto one of the bars in the hive and let the dudes get to know her.
The characters who were supposed to be the occupants of Hive #2 were a little hesitant, however, and the majority of them stayed in their travel box.
Since the Animal Whisperer was now skilled at bee keeping, he decided to bag the “let’s get to know the queen” idea and just let them both out of their boxes. Heck, they’d already traveled with her from California, how much better could they get to know her?
Outing Queen #1 resulted in her making an immediate escape flight from the queen bee box and out into the wild blue yonder. She apparently was smart enough to realize she’d better get the heck out of dodge. We hoped out loud that she would also realize what side her bread was buttered on and come back to her adoring throng of bees.
Outing Queen #2 proceeded a little differently. She was a touch lethargic. The Animal Whisperer opened her screen and she flopped out and to the bottom of the Hive #2. Hopefully she’ll rise to the occasion. She was just a little carsick?
Now, four days later, all seems to be well in bee land. Bees are flying around, apparently pollinating things, and apparently living in their respective hives.
And, there you have it. The story of how we got bees. Hopefully we’ll actually get some honey in the fall and I can tell you how that adventure goes.
Meanwhile, every time I see a bee buzz by, I smile and think, “Ooooohhhh, that’s one of OUR bees!” It is a little odd to feel a sense of ownership over a bug though. I can’t imagine saying, “Oh, wonderful! That’s one of our spiders!” I guess if I was raising spiders for silk, I might feel that way. Hopefully I won’t fall THAT far off the deep end.
And, for the record, The Animal Whisperer only got stung twice.
– The Goat Cheese (and Bee) Lady