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BEEKEEPING: PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING YOU SHOULDN’T DO IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL BEEHIVE

URBAN BEEKEEPING

Recently I was feeling really ambitious.  Really ambitious.  I’ve watched The Secret Life of Bees and Pushing Daisies so many times now that beekeeping was starting to look pretty glamorous.  We LOVE honey around here so really it all made sense.  Chickens are a gateway farm animal and bees just seemed like the next logical step.

Typically I’m a research type of person.  I like to learn everything I can before I jump into something because it just tends to go better.  I did not do that this time.  We ran into a friend that was buying bees and he mentioned he had ordered more packs than he needed.  This was my opportunity!  And they were local bees!  So perfect!  I told him to give the guy my number and tell him I would get my hive supplies together and pick up his extra pack.  I ran to IFA and loaded up on all the bee supplies I would need for my new babies.

The next day I picked up my package of bees (see below).  I actually had to put this pack (with a few loose bees) on the passenger side floor of my car! (there is no trunk due to me driving a wagon).  I was so excited to welcome my bees to their new home.

Before putting my bees in their new home I watched several Youtube videos about how to do everything, thus rendering me an expert on the subject. (You can see a few of them here)  After reviewing 10 or so videos about moving them from the pack to the hive I decided I was above hosing my poor bees down with sugar water and certainly not going to shake them out of their pack (I loved my bees and according to several of the uploads, if you love your bees you don’t shake them or spray them).  That was the extent of my research.  No one in the video wore gloves or gear so I figured with my calm loving spirit towards my new babies I would have no need to do any of that either.

We went out to the backyard, I handed my hubbs the camera and I picked up my pack to move out to the beehive.  I was promptly stung.

On the finger!!  And it HURTS.  I go inside, make sure the stinger has been removed, rub my essential oils all over my wound and bravely return. (see brave face below)

Previous to the sting my bees had been happily humming to themselves in no particular way.  When I returned they seemed to be humming in the most disarming, more unanimous matter.

I make it to where I have set up the hive and slide the bee package down in their new home!  Once again, instead of hosing my bees down and shaking them all in the hive I decided that I love them, don’t want to shake them and that they will just find their way over to their queen if I put her in the honeycomb of the new hive.  This will all be perfect.  The next step is to remove the can of sugar water and then take the smaller package that contains the queen and place her (still in her package) over in the honeycomb so her workers will come to her, eat her out of her package and them make themselves a happy home.

I successfully remove the can and timidly attempt to remove the queen.  I am promptly attacked and stung a second time, further projecting the hormone to attack me more!!

You’ll notice I’m not in this picture.  I have run for my life, bees chasing me, into the house.

I no longer love my bees as much.

I make a bottle of sugar water to hose those suckers down so they can’t chase me!

Effing bees.

I drench them.

Did I mention that I found out later that they hate the colors red and black?  They really do prefer yellow and white.

I proceed to remove the queens little package and place her over in the new honeycomb (sorry for the blurry pic).  I tape it up and leave the hive alone for 2 days.

Two days later I’ve regained some courage.  I love my bees again.  The sting on my arm is almost gone, and the one on my finger still hurts but that was totally my own fault, right?  My bees don’t hate me-I’m just not a good beekeeper, right?

I was starting to worry about them because after much reading I realize they have no food.  I had removed their can of sugar water and desert bees especially need access to moisture and food.  So I took off the lid.

Not only are half of my bees attached to the lid, but the other half are making a home for themselves in the package!!  They haven’t even looked at the honeycomb!  In a panic I set the lid on the ground only to have half the bees slide off onto the ground (did I mention they can’t fly because I soaked them again in sugar water?  Ooops.)  They are PISSED.  They do not like people poking around in their hive AND dumping them on the ground.  So I pick up the lid and throw it back on top and make another run for it (crushing several bees in the meantime)

I call the sweet old man I purchased the bees from.  He thinks I’m an idiot.  I don’t blame him at this point.  Not at all.  He cannot believe that I left the package in the hive and says I best get back out there and shake my bees out of their package!

I gear up.  White hoodie up over hair, pants, socks, gloves…

My husband is hiding over in the bushes taking pics of me on his cell phone.

I open up the lid.  I hose down everything that moves.  I dump more bees in the process of setting the lid down.  I pick up my bees little crate, flip it over and I SHAKE IT.  I can see bees desperately trying to sting me through my gloves and hoodie, unsuccessful.

At one point I remember seeing the queen try to leave.  I bat her back down into the hive (seriously, I’m beekeeper of the year).  There are little bee carcasses everywhere.  Bees are in a panic trying to murder me, and/or make a break for it.  I pick up the lid (still thick with a mat of bees) and crush more in the process of recapping the hive.  I then run.

The next morning I returned to see my bees happily zooming in and out of their hive.  They’re happy!  They’ve stayed!  I love them again.  I check on them again that night and they are cozy and settled.  Somehow I have redeemed myself as a beekeeper and everything is going to be ok.

Sunday morning I woke up bright and early, anxious to check on my new babies.  Every.single.one is gone.  They weren’t happily zooming in and out to make a home, they were zooming in and out scouting!!

Learn from me.  I have high hopes of beekeeping one day but not until I’m actually ready.  Not until I know more.  And certainly not until I get a beekeeper suit.

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