I have been thinking about bees and beekeeping and honey. And thinking about how I have only been beekeeping or actually beelearning since May of this year and what an exciting, wonderful, and challenging adventure it has been. Here I was thinking how nice it would be, how simply nice it would be, to have a quaint, quiet, sweet beehive in my backyard. A beehive filled with little workers who would love to share their honey with me. No one mentioned a thing to me about the little darlin’s swarming not once, but twice. Or that when bees swarm they might settle 30 feet up in a tree, twice. Oh, and when bees swarm……..they eat all the honey before they leave!! No one said anything about what to do when a queen bee emerges from a cell in a jar on your kitchen table or what to do when the queen bee refuses to go into the hive and crawls up your arm. Or how when it is time to give them their medicine, yes I said medicine, what a production that happens to be. Ok, I may have read about these nuances of bees, but I guess I didn’t really think all these events would happen in such a short period of time.
A week after the ladies left their home again, my mentor Linnear and her mom helped me with the process of putting my hive back together again. Gee, that sounds a bit like Humpty Dumpty! It was quite a process. You might recall that three weeks ago a restless group of bees convinced their queen that they had found a much nicer place to live and attempted to leave the comforts of our backyard. Their attempt was thwarted and they have been in a timeout in a separate hive. So, we first examined the swarm hive from top to bottom with a goal of locating the queen. There were quite a few bees and they were not very pleased with the home invasion. It took four of us examining the frames, twice, before we found the queen. She was beautiful: long, thin, and tan in color. Queen bees are much larger than the worker bees; this one did not have stripes on her body.
Now, we did see eggs so that meant that the queen had been there within the previous 3 days. But, before we reunited these ladies with the hive from which they swarmed we needed verify whether or not there was still a queen. We put the hive back together and we inspected the original hive next primarily to determine whether or not there was a queen reigning over that hive. Because……well……you just cannot have two queen bees in one hive! Unfortunately, but fortunately, the original hive was queenless. This made combining the two hives a bit easier, relatively speaking. It took us about three hours to complete all these steps. Linnea brought her brand new smoker, thankfully! The ladies were slightly irritated, especially when we placed the queen in a queen cage that looked like a hair clip! Why did we cage the boss, you might be asking? We needed to treat the bees for mites with a strong medication that could potentially harm the queen. I do not think I could possibly explain all that we did, eloquently and possibly boring you a tad. That said, it was hard work but it was fun and fascinating at the same time.
Here are some pictures taken during our time in the backyard: