Well, when I say “we”, I mean that I didn’t actually get the bees. I can think of a thousand reasons why driving in a van with 10,000 bees doesn’t sound like a good idea. My husband Rob and friend John did the honors and picked up the bees from a local beekeeper and carefully drove them across town. Unbeknownst to me, they placed the bees in the greenhouse to stay overnight. Oh, and they forgot to tell me they were in there.
The bees were housed in wooden boxes the size of a large shoe box with metal screens on either side. When I finished working in my office that day, I went out to the greenhouse to water the plants. Which is a normal thing that people do. As I was spraying the seedlings, I was surprised to discover that I was face to face with 5,000 bees about 6 inches from my nose! What happened next is kind of a blur, but it involved screaming and spraying both hives with cold water. Moral of the story: SURPRISE BEES are not a thing that should ever happen.
Luckily, I didn’t knock the hives over or I might not be here to document it. I did, however, invite our friend and beekeeper, Andrea, to coach the guys as they installed the 2 hives the following day. When they were all dressed up in their “costumes” as I called it (bee gear), I ran outside to take photos of them. They were giddy with excitement but intentionally poised (beekeepers need to be CALM). As they headed down the hill to install the bees in the hives we assembled, Andrea asked me if I would like to join them – she had apparently brought an extra bee suit! Ummm, no. That’s what telephoto lenses are for. My position is that bees are best observed from a nice safe distance.
I was surprised that the bees didn’t swarm around when they opened up the boxes. Rob just scooped them up with his glove-covered hands and placed fistfuls of bees into the hives. When he started knocking the wooden box against the hive to get the last remaining stragglers, I was sure he was going to turn into a screaming, running man-shaped bee swarm, but … nothing happened. The installation of both hives went smoothly, and there was no screaming or running around.
After they installed the bees, they placed the queens (one for each hive) right into the hives. The queens were kept separate in tiny little boxes with screens on one side – very clever contraption.
Because the honeycombs were bare, the guys bought feeders that hold the sugar-water mixture and poured the solution in so the bees would have food to eat. They plan to refill the sugar-water mixture every couple of days for about a month while our buzzy friends become acclimated to their new homes. Then, with any luck at all, the bees will start foraging for pollen in our fruit trees and berry patches. Can’t wait to see the honey production!