Bee Christmas

April 17, 2008

The bee Santa Claus came to town today, and I felt just like a kid on Christmas morning…a Christian kid…cuz I’m Jewish, so Christmas morning was kind of a non-event in our house…

But please, don’t let my desire for precision interfere with the metaphor here. The point is, it was a big day, because the bees arrived.

I got the call from Richard around 2 p.m. letting me know he’d gone to Beez Neez and picked up my new girls, plus Alyssa‘s as well. Richard is a new beekeeper, so I headed over to his place to walk him through the hiving process. It’s ridiculously simple, but it’s still nice to have an experienced hand around. Richard was a champ.


I was interested in his hive set-up. Instead of a simple plank for a bottom board (translation: bee house floor), he had a mesh screen with a removal tray underneath. I’d read about these, but hadn’t seen one in the flesh wood. They’re useful for counting mites (which fall through the mesh) and generally for keeping things clean. I gotta get me one of those. Maybe for bee Chanukah.

Once Richard’s girls were settled in, I head back across 520 (Question: Do 50,000 bees qualify you for the carpool lane?) with Alyssa’s bees and my own to get my two colonies settled in.

My frames had a fair amount of mold on them from being in the garage with uncapped honey and leftover pollen all winter, but I’m not particularly worried. The bees are industrious housecleaners and should have it tidied up in no time.

It was a pleasure going through the simple motions of hiving them: spraying them down with a bit of sugar syrup, pulling the queen in her little cage out, popping a marshmallow in the end, settling her in, then pouring the rest of the bees out into the hive. The smell was a mixture of honeycomb and slightly humid poo (they’d been caged up for a few days and took the opportunity to relieve themselves, leading to that familiar rain-like tappity-tap sound of bees crapping all over my yard).

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Alyssa womanned the camera while I poured the first hive, but five or six feisty ones took exception to her shampoo and burrowed in. The sound of a furious bee in one’s hair is one that I’ll just never get used to. You know the sting is coming and there’s not much you can do about it, and the rattlesnake warning of its wings tangling up just makes it worse. We spent a joyful few minutes ferreting them out of her scalp and sent her home to take care of her own hives (in a suit!)

Within 15 minutes, my girls were hauling debris out the front door, so I’ve little worry they’ll enjoy their new home. Can’t wait to get out in the morning and see exploring.

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