Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hiving the Bees

Yesterday was B-Day--the day our honeybees arrived. Odie drove to a tavern near Columbus, Ohio to get the bees. (Yes, you read that right. Imagine a tavern full of bee packages, queens in cages and guys drinking beer. Bizarre and true--bees were flying everywhere, Odie reported, and people were still ordering hamburgers. Oh, for a picture of that!)

Odie and his Dad arrived back about 5 pm. We jumped right in to get his hive set up. None of us, mind, had a clue what we were doing. I'd had bees 30 years ago, but my memory was hazy--I still had the book, a honey extractor, a smoker and the desire to try again. I never could work the bees before, though--fear made me an easy target. This time, maybe I'll try--but my husband Larry can't wait. He worked bees with his Dad when he was a kid 50 years ago. The others in this venture are rank amateurs.

Derek helps Odie suit up. We cobbled together an outfit with Tyvek coveralls, a funny little veil I bought at a yard sale (we think it was a mosquito net for a child, actually--it touched nose and cheek so the guys sported a piece of duct tape on their noses to keep the veil off so bees could not sting them), gloves Larry got at work, and the essential duct tape to secure all.

Sis and I put the feeder solution in the hive. We didn't have bee feeders either (not being aware we'd need them) so mountaineer ingenuity came into play. I made the sugar syrup (5 pounds of sugar to a gallon of water--those bees are going to rot their teeth out!) and put it in plastic gallon jugs. Then we used a needle to punch tiny holes in the jug so the solution seeped out. It seems to be working just fine.

Derek observes closely as Odie places the queen cage in the hive.

Shaking the bees out of the package into the hive.

Done! With bees all around him, Odie celebrates the completion of hive #1.

Then we moved on to Derek's place, about 20 miles away. (I bought two hives for us, one to put on our place and one to put over at Derek's.) Odie returns the favor of helping to suit up. Attractive outfit, isn't it?

Derek places his queen in the hive,

...and shakes in the bees. Done!
I don't have pictures of hiving the bees at my place. For several reasons: although things went smoothly the first two times, by the time we got to my house it was 8:30 and getting dark fast. We'd left the boards for my hive stand at Odie's; the tractor, which we wanted to use to haul everything out to the hive site, would not start; we needed to make another gallon of sugar syrup; then we used a pin that was too big to punch the holes and I had to run for another gallon jug.
It was 9:30pm by the time we finished, but these bees also went into the hive easily despite all our emergencies and phoo-pahs.
Then it was time to feed the pigs and SIT DOWN! We were all tired but elated. We had three hives set up and ready to go. All we need to do now is order all that stuff we should have had in the first place.
Oh--and when we finally got to the house and sat down---Larry came home. He'd been taking tests for a possible job. Or so he said. The timing was very suspicious! (Actually, he was sorry to have missed it all.)
Ah well. Learn by doing! And we learned a lot last night--like how very cool this is going to be.


Mary said...

Thanks for sharing the drama and for the gift to agriculture (we need those bees!) . . . and enjoy the sweet honey bonus!

Anonymous said...

Granny Sue
I love the pictures of Derek helping/watching. The first one, where he is smiling as he works with the duct tape, shows such joy -- now this is good, I see on his face; this is where I want to be, in the woods on a day with a blue sky overhead. The third picture down, where Derek watches with his hands on his hips -- he looks so relaxed, like he is not going anywhere -- home, at peace. Great day, great photos, great joy.

Tipper said...

I so want bees!!! I hope you tell about them often.

Granny Sue said...

Sue, you are so right. He is so happy to be home and digging into the things he enjoys. It was a pleasure to me to watch him.

Tipper, I'll keep you updated. I hope this goes well. We've wanted to do it for a long time, and it's so satisfying to look out on the flat and see the hive out there.

Granny Sue said...

Mary, you mentioned something important. Bees have had difficulties in the past 10 years, so every new hive is helping overcome the bee shortage.

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