Bees are my husbands thing. I am terrified of anything that flies at my face and could sting me. My husband finds it relaxing to sit and watch the bees buzz at their door. I agree that they are neat to watch from a far far distance.
My hubby watched a few youtube videos about keeping bees and then made the mistake by telling me he wanted them. The next day I told him his bees were coming in a few weeks. If you didn’t read my earlier posts I will catch you up…My husband loves to research and know everything about the new adventure. I dive into the shallow end head first!
Luckily we have a good friend who has been beekeeping for a few years. She is our mentor and answers all our questions. We purchased all the necessary beekeeping equipment and waited for our bees to arrive. We were so excited. I have a rather expensive honey habit so producing our own honey seemed to be a good priority on our little homestead. My coffee would not be the same without my honey!
When our bees arrived our friend came over to help us put them in their new home. Bees are tricky, they are free to fly away at anytime. So as a beekeeper you cross your fingers and hope they are happy in their new digs.
Every time hubby worked the hives I sat in our field 30 feet away watching him work. He looked so relaxed and at peace while working his hives. Bees are by far the most interesting thing on our little farm. Did you know that each bee has a specific job in the hive? More on this here.
One day my neighbor called and asked how my bees were. I told her they were doing great and she replied with “well I think they are in my tree”. My first thoughts were YYYAAAHHHHH! I called hubby straight away to tell him he had to come home from work because his bees flew away. Turns out he is not allowed to leave work for farm matters so it was up to me. I called my friend to help me (do everything while I watched from far far away) but she was busy. So I was back to my previous thought, YYYYAAHHHHH! She told me I had to collect the swarm in a box and call her for the steps to place them back in the hive. I had never even put on the bee suit!
I went over to assess the situation. They were in a tree on a high branch and the swarm was about 4 volleyballs large…YYYAAHHHH… but I digress, I grabbed a ladder, set it up, climbed about 2 steps and remembered oh right I am afraid of heights. Heights make me feel dizzy and wobbly in my legs. Not good things if you are climbing a ladder. I pulled up my socks took a big breath and climbed to the very top stretched out my arm and was nowhere near the swarm.
So in my wisdom I backed the truck up to the tree placed the ladder in the bed and made the climb again. This time if I stood on the very top of the ladder on my tippy toes and stretched out my arm I could just grab the branch. I precariously balanced on the ladder placing one hand on the branch and held a tote under the swarm. My thoughts drifted to that commercial where people do silly things and the headline flashes ‘Accidents are Preventable’. With the swarm inches from my face the noise was louder than I expected. The wind created by their fluttering wings blew my hair. I have never been so terrified! Taking one last breath and closing my eyes, I gave the branch a quick tug to shake off the bees. The tote felt suddenly heavy. I slowly climbed down the ladder with legs that moved like a strobe light flashes.
I missed some bees so I had to do the whole process again. The queen bee is the most important bee to get and she is the first one on the branch with her guards surrounding her. This time when I made the climb the bees were angry. They were flying into the suit and crawling all over me. I shook the branch again but not many fell into the box. I decided to let them settle and try again when they had collected. I discussed a plan with my neighbors and everyone agreed it would work.
I decided to cut the front of the branch to shorten it and then cut the branch a little behind the hive so that I could break it off and place into the box. I climbed and began to cut the branch. The results were not what we had hoped for. The branch swung down and hit me in the face crashing down into the truck. This shook the branch just enough to cause the bees to fall down on my head. My neighbor was screaming at the top of her lungs and I was calmly talking to myself, telling myself it didn’t work and to carefully climb down the ladder. The bees felt like a thousand tiny electric shocks buzzing all over my body. I have never been so scared.
I gave up at this point. That was more than enough for one day. I took the bees I had collected and put them back in their hive. That process was not as scary. I describe the steps here. We crossed our fingers and hoped they would create a new queen to lead the hive.
With that a new beekeeper was born.