After months of eager anticipation (and nervousness) the bees are here! A lively phone call came at 6:30am on Monday. I didn't answer my phone the first time because I really thought it was a wrong number or something. As soon as it quit ringing another call came in. It was then I passed the phone to my dear hubby hoping he could deal with whoever was on the other end. Well, lo and behold it was the Post Office. Evidently, they were scared. Two of the bees were clinging onto the outside of the crate. The Post Master was afraid they were escaping and requested an immediate pick-up at their back door...no waiting until it opens. That's service I tell you!
I've been waiting on their shipment since January. Whew, what I relief to have them set up and seemingly content. I would have pictures of the whole process, but it seems my family was too scared to be out there with me. They watched me with binoculars through the kitchen window. Too bad we don't have one of those fancy-shmancy cameras with the ultra zoom lenses. Of course the pictures may have been more of something you'd see on the show AFV than me actually looking like I know what I was doing.
After fumbling with all of the packaging, getting the queen's cage prepped and hung inside the hive I was making it. There's just something about shaking 3 lbs of honeybees into a hive that doesn't seem safe or sane to most people...but I must admit it was pretty cool. My gloves were pretty big on my hands and my veil needed strapped on better making it difficult to see. In the process I sadly squished a bee... That just did it for me. I was sad to see I'd ended it's little life with my clumsiness.
It rained most of that day. With either an umbrella or a raincoat I bet I made 10 trips out there to check on the progress. Some of the bees had to be left in the shipping crate because they refused to be released (normal by the way). I just sat the crate near the entrance and prayed. Flashes would go through my head of them drowning right in the crate. Torture I tell you!
When the sun finally peaked from behind the clouds, the busy bees began to come out of the hive massing at the entrance. What worry does that bring up then? That somehow I had failed to make a better homecoming for them. Maybe I should have done this or that to make them want to stay. But time marched on. As evening approached, life around the hive seemed a bit more normal. The crate was now emptied and the masses of bees clinging around the hive entrance had reduced to just a few plus the hive guard. I finally could rest peacefully through the night.
Here's my hive:
I've posted previously about Top Bar Hives if you want to look at them. It is quite a bit different than the traditional Langstroth hive used by most beekeepers. This one doesn't have pre-made frames but only a top bar, thus the name. It encourages a naturally shaped comb like you would find if bees built them in nature.
Living in fire ant territory, I have been more than concerned about them invading and destroying the hive. They LOVE to get into my potted plants and such, so I knew this would be a problem. Elevating the hive to waist level not only will help with the fire ant problems, but it is suppose to be an all around calmer way to deal with the bees.
You see the cinder block on the top? Well, add our common 50-60 mph winds in the mix of everything. It will also help if we have some nightly visitors wanting a taste of honey (no bears thankfully)
My kids have already questioned my worrying about the bees. "Wow Mom you worry more about the bees than us!" ...If they only knew the stress of when I brought them home fresh from the hospital. There were more sleepless nights than I care to count, but it was because of that they are alive today.
I've joined the local beekeepers association so I can have plenty of help and friendly advice. I'm also already getting requests for honey. We'll see! Until I'm comfortable with the whole process, I'm not promising honey to anyone. Of course I said the same thing about raising chickens for eggs. With almost a dozen a day coming in, I think I am able to sell a few and share with friends.
I'm really looking forward to taking care of the bees. I just need to let them do what they do best and enjoy it.