Being the musings of a former single Type A attorney, turned tender of home-schooled children, organic gardens, backyard chickens and, now, bees.
Friday, April 2, 2010
The bees are here!
After a few days of back and forth phone calls, calendar checking, and weather forecasting we managed to coordinate the schedules of myself, my bee mentor David, bee seller Bob, and the bees themselves and set a date to go and pick up my two nuc hives!
David came by about 4 last Saturday with his truck loaded with bags of sugar he'd picked up at the bee supply place in Moultrie, Georgia. We then loaded up my hives and stands and drove to Sycamore - about an hour away from here - and arrived at Bob's place. I was certainly glad that I went with David in his truck. I'm not sure I would ever have found my way there, and I really didn't relish the thought of driving home with several thousand bees in the back of my minivan! On top of that, we discovered on the way over that we had (in addition to bees) homeschooling in common as David and his wife homeschooled their two daughters all the way. So - we had lots to talk about on the ride!
Bob has about a hundred hives on his 40-something acre place. He gave me the grand tour in his golf cart - beautiful land with acres and acres of planted pines and rows of beehives. We then all suited up and opened a few hives, looking for the perfect nucs for me to take home. After a little bit of searching Bob found the ones he was looking for - 10 frames literally dripping with bees, five for each of my hives. He spent lots of time with me, showing me the queens, capped and uncapped brood, larvae and eggs, pollen and honey. There is so much to learn and remember!
We very carefully loaded the 2 hives onto the back of David's truck and secured them with packing straps, then drove them back to Tallahassee. Arrived just a few minutes before dark and gently placed them on the stand I had set up by my blueberry bushes. I have to say that the girls were NOT happy after an hour of jostling around in the back of a truck! You could hear the hum from both hives about 10 feet away. After setting them up on the stands we removed the packing straps, took the moving screens off the entrances and reduced them with bricks, then installed the Boardman feeders with sugar water and - VOILA - I had two hives of bees in my yard!
Went to sleep Saturday night tired but happy, with the sound of that humming in my head. I set my alarm for 7, wanting to make sure I was out in the yard by the time the first bee woke up and ventured out of the hive. I fixed my coffee and went out to bee-watch. About 8:30, the first ones emerged, taking their orientation flights and returning to the hive - I suppose to pass along information to their sisters. Slowly out of the hive, up in a loop, and back in. Then out again, up and out a little farther, and back in again. By noon there were hundreds of them checking things out - even a few venturing into the garden, buzzing around the blueberries, and sipping water out of the soaker hoses!
Fast forward to Friday, April 2. The girls have been here for almost a week now, and have settled in and seem to be enjoying themselves. I'm now seeing them all around the yard - on the clover, in the dogwood trees, all around the garden. They come out around 9, and exit in a steady stream, returning loaded with pollen.
So far I've resisted opening the lids, but tomorrow's the day I've picked to do it for the first time. Practiced lighting the smoker today and finding just the right fuel to produce a steady cool smoke. The inspector is coming next Thursday, so for now I'll be happy with just taking the lids off and peeking inside. If I feel good about it, I'll look at each frame to see if the empty ones are being drawn out with wax - and will possibly move some of the outer, empty frames closer toward the center. I'm a little nervous about doing this the first time, but excited too. Stayed tuned!!