Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Bee Story

So last year The Husband got the bee bug (pun intended).  We had six hives on the farm to pollinate two acres of berries, and they hung around for most of the spring and summer.  They swarmed several times, as anyone who's read this before knows, and that attracted his attention.  Then the owner came out and showed him a few things and he was hooked.  Of course the fact that I get constant calls for local honey might have had a little to do with it too.  And I might have encouraged him (just a little).  

I've always been scared of bees, wasps, hornets, bumblebees, pretty much anything that makes a loud buzz. Blowflies can unnerve me.  It's really the sound that gives me the heebie-jeebies more than anything.  I think I associate it with pain since I got stung by a wasp and a yellow-jacket once (on separate occasions, ten years apart).  As I've gotten older I try to hide it, but I'm still a little scared (especially of wasps and yellow jackets, not because I've been stung, but because those suckers will chase you).  I've tried to take an intellectual approach to bumble and honey bees.  They won't bother me if I won't bother them, that kind of thing.  And I'm just a little fascinated by them and their behaviors (which are so freaking neat!) so I make a big effort to overcome my fear.  I've been two feet away from the hive with no protective gear on and they've never bothered me.  Still, when I hear that sound my instincts kick in and I get scared, which they can smell, which sets off their instincts, you see where this is going.  

The Husband wanted to paint them Island Orange,
but after the pullover incident I
convinced him bright orange probably wasn't the best color.
Building the Hives
The Husband has no fear, despite being stung a number of times (it's really his own fault, he was wearing a bright orange fleece pullover while disking [not sure of the spelling on this one, and Google's not helping] right up next to the hives on the loudest tractor on the east coast, what did he really expect?).  So him and Cousin Alvin took the beekeeper class that was offered by the Beekeepers of the Neuse (basically the beekeepers association of Wayne County), and what started as 'I'll just take the course so I'll know more about it' turned into 'we're buying five hives.'  Just like that we were in the bee business.  After a couple trips up to the bee store in North Wilkesboro and a couple Saturdays spent building and painting hives, the Sunday came when we were to get the bees.  I was excited.  While I am technically a little scared of them (or rather the sound they make, honestly we should tape it and play it in the haunted maze.  I'm sure it would freak me out to hear a swarm coming at me in the dark in the corn.  Heck it would freak me out to have a swarm coming at me in the daytime in the wide open field), I like them at the same time.  I just like the idea of having our own hives here on the farm, hives we've taken care of and that we know all about, and honey that was produced from the trees and plants right here.  It's as local as local can get.  

The Package
The Queen and her Ladies in Waiting.
Her  majesty has a red marker on her
abdomen that you can just barely see in this picture.
So the packages came in small cages, with the queen and a couple workers in their own little compartment.  First they removed the queen and put her in the hive, then they dumped the cages out into it.  It was all going well until the bees became agitated.  They sprayed them with sugar water in an attempt to calm them, and on one package it didn't work.  The husband (who has always bragged that he could get close to the hive without a veil, got stung three times.  It was pretty hilarious.  He ordered a veil the next day).  They must have done something right though, because they all went in well.  We only lost one hive, and it flew away destination unknown.  We aren't really sure why.  Luckily we had a helpful customer with a swarm in her backyard and a party planned who called asking for help.  Cousin Alvin caught the swarm and that replaced them.   So if you are not a beekeeper and have an unwelcome swarm in your yard, call us and if we can't come catch it we'll pass along the info to the bee club and hopefully someone will.  You can never have too much local honey! 

PS, if you know someone with local honey (within 20 miles or so of Goldsboro) they want to sell, give us a call also.  I would love to take it off their hands!
The Brave One Dumping a Package

The Smart One dumping a package

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