A story for another day is that I AM MEANT to keep bees, or, if you are any type fatalist or mystic, bees are meant to keep me. As I said, that is a story for another day.
Tuesday, April 4, 2010 was a very significant day in my life. I'll tell you about the getting of bees and some etcs later, but I had a hive all set up, in the right place, which is a very different story, and all was going well. Yes, I had checked my little angels and thought things were fine. But on Tuesday, wellsir, things were way strange.
I got the newspaper and my coffee cup and started out the back door to the patio. When what to my wondering ears should appear but a sound that was frightening and certainly not dear. The sound of thousands of bees buzzing louder than any bee sound I could imagine.. I stopped in amazement and thought, "That sounds like my bees buzzing."
I peeked around the corner-- actually I stepped fully around the corner-- and saw a sight that would have frightened Stephen King. A bee hive will contain 40K to 60K bees and at least half of my hive were flying in a mad circle. The circle covered about the west 1/3 of my back yard and the sound could cover a much greater distance. Being very quick and witty, I stood in petrified amazement with my bottom jaw dropping somewhere around my knees.
As blood once again began to flow in the region where most people have a brain, I decided, "Hey, they are swarming." So I stepped back inside and did the right thing once in a row.
I called for help.
First let me tell you that when bees swarm it means that those thousands of bees have taken your queen and are looking for a new home. You are losing at least half of your hive and you absolutely must have a queen to constantly replenish the hive or you lose it all.
My bee friend told me some things to do which I immediately did and then I came back inside and emailed an emergency message to a young friend in Florida. Her boss is an apiary man with the Dept. of Agriculture.
He emailed some instructions and then called. His instructions were almost the same, but more detailed, as the local friend so I knew I was on the right track. You need to know the swarm had settled on the trunk of a small maple tree. They were from the ground up to about four feet high. Not the usual "hanging from a branch" type thing where one can scoop them into a box.
I spent the next few hours scooping from ground level, with my hand, some into a new bee box and waiting for others to join them. Imagine going up to a very small tree and scooping up handfuls of buzzing bees and carefully putting them in a box. Wellsir, I did and it worked. OK, it worked well on everything but my nerves.
Then, after a very long time, I moved the box (called a hive body) to a new, permanent location where they now reside. I had on my long, white coat, gloves, veil and helmet but had rushed out wearing my cargo shorts so my legs were bare. I only got stung on the legs twice and twice through my gloves.
The good news is that I now have two hives of bees as I was very fortunate the bees stopped so close. It would be OK if they swarmed each spring if they stay this close to home to do it.
Next post I really should talk about books. That is a favorite topic of mine.