bee-lieve it

  • Apr 29, 2012
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‘Tis the season to replenish the hive. 

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Unlike puppies, iguanas or even chickens, who can be settled into your household almost any time, bees require a very specific schedule. For our Italian species, April 21st marked the day to pick them up from our local store.

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Hundreds of beekeepers filled the parking lot and sidestreets near the dilapidated building to pick up the ‘girls.’ Each package contains 10,000-12,000 bees and one queen. Because a hive needs time to accept her queen, she is packaged in a tiny cage with a small piece of candy blocking her exit– over the course of three or four days the worker bees eat through the candy, the queen crawls our and begins her glorious reign. All this information is familiar to Xander and I because we devour Beekeeping for Dummies for breakfast and lunch.

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 Our generous orchard friends offered a corner near the grapevines for our three new hives (we still have two in our backyard)– wouldn’t you want to live here if you were a bee? Choosing to stand back after my run-in with angry bees last fall, I handed the book on new hives to Hans and kept my distance from the angry cloud of bees.

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As we walked back to the car, Erik reported, “Yeah, they had the queens in these little boxes so I shook them out into the hive.”

“You’re kidding.” I replied in complete shock (hadn’t he read the Bee Bible? Didn’t he know we just poured $300 worth of bees into those hives?). And then I shrugged saying, “Nothing we can do now.”

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wandering through the apple trees while the boys work the hives

Our friend Dean assured us it would be an interesting experiment– how strong are those little queens?

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Yesterday we suited up (me too! although I did have one moment of panic where I ran away and left Erik in a swarm), and examined each of our new hives. Searching for a queen in a box of bees is literally like finding a needle in a haystack, spying newly laid eggs is a bit easier.

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Brushing a clump of bees away from a likely looking frame, I spied tiny (1.2mm) eggs laid in each cell. I shrieked for joy– “She’s alive!” Checking the next two hives, we were thrilled to find all three queens survived our ineptitude. Halllelujah! I couldn’t have been more proud if I’d laid all those little eggs myself.

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ah, you can’t quite see the eggs (I think that would require a macro lens); the brightly colored cells are filled with pollen.

The moral: 1. queens are tougher than you think (and beekeeping less of an exact science than you’ve been told) and 2. never yell at your husband for dumb mistakes, because it feels really good a week later to know your kept your cool.

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a huge piece of burr comb our overly ambitious bees built this week

p.s. I officially despise the new version of blogger. Anyone else ready to tear their hair out? 

April 26, 2012
April 30, 2012

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7 Comments

  1. Reply

    Linn

    April 30, 2012

    I’m allergic to bees. But boy do I love reading all about yours and seeing the fabulous photos.

    Do you know you can change back to the original Blogger? Yeah, I’m lazy like that. I tried it for about a day and a half (okay a day and a fourth) and decided I was too old to learn new tricks.

    It is one of the buttons on the top right (isn’t that so helpful, sorry, I can’t remember and can’t find it again). Anyway, search around and it will pop up some options including switching back to old Blogger.

    Happy day for me! And hopefully for you too.

  2. Reply

    Tracy

    April 30, 2012

    I like to put an order in for a some honey. Too early? xo

  3. Reply

    Cath

    April 30, 2012

    The whole bee-keeping journey is mesmerizing to me. Wow. Gorgeous pictures my friend. And as for the new version of blogger? Yes, I wanted to yank my hair out last post. Seriously!?? Do they think that was an improvement?? I’m contemplating wordpress.

  4. Reply

    Natasha and Jesse

    April 30, 2012

    Lovely photos! My husband received a bee hive for Christmas and has bees that we will pick up in mid May. We’re excited to start this adventure.

    Yes, I really dislike the new Blogger too, but as Linn said, if you go to Dashboard there should be a little gear type symbol in the top right and if you click on that there should be an option to switch to the old Blogger interface. Sadly, I’ve heard it’s only a temporary change. Boo.

  5. Reply

    Claudia

    April 30, 2012

    That bee keeping thing is a scary, fascinating business. I’d love to try it sometime. With extra tight duct tape of course.

  6. Reply

    Claudia

    April 30, 2012

    That bee keeping thing is a scary, fascinating business. I’d love to try it sometime. With extra tight duct tape of course.

  7. Reply

    Jess

    April 30, 2012

    I find this so incredibly fascinating. A few years ago I took the kids to a local farm and the beekeeper was tending the hives. Oh my! I could have spent the entire day right there watching him (and asking millions of questions!). I’m so glad you write about it because I love to read about it.
    And, oh my, yes! Yes! YES! I am so annoyed with the new blogger. It’s making my eyes cross!

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