The day we were supposed to get our honeybees delivered was actually the day I went into labor. On the way to the hospital, my husband joked that we had a bay-“bee” of our own to deliver…already killing those dad jokes!
I think the idea to get honeybees started after we visited my husband’s boss, who had started beekeeping as a hobby. He agreed to be our bee mentor and gave us a rundown on his own operation. And, gratefully, he agreed to house our bees on his property until we were back home.
The thought of being able to harvest our own honey and help pollinate all the fruit trees and flowers around the area was a huge driving factor to start beekeeping. Bees are also really fascinating creatures with an innate ability to navigate up to 5 miles from the hive and then reverse every turn in their flight path to get back home. It’s like internal Google Maps.
Until recently, my only exposure to bees was at work when a swarm of them would cause a delay by hovering around one of the aircraft or fire bottles on the flightline. We had a guy at work who would get really excited, go grab his beekeeping suit, and smoke the swarm to find the queen. He would capture her and said the other bees would follow their queen back to his home, where he could give them a permanent home.
This is what the set up for the two nuc(leus) colonies looks like. Our bee mentor suggested we paint the brood boxes, because bees can see color and will use it to figure out which one they belong to. I used a stencil to add copper honeycomb details on one and light blue honeycomb on the other.
The boxes are stacked on painted cinder blocks, which double as flower planters. The purpose is to lift the boxes, which get heavier over time with honey, off the ground. The gravel pit puts some distance between the bees and the lawn mower or weed eater.
To deliver the bees Squiggy closed the entrance to the boxes, put a ratchet strap around them, and drove them over in the back of his Prius. Not kidding. That’s how they showed up.
“You’ve seen Tommy Boy, right?” my husband asked him.
The frames were then transferred to our painted boxes, approximately 20,000 honey bees in total. We’re probably up to 30,000 bees now, which is pretty good considering we lost one hive, presumably from neighboring pesticide use 😦
So far, visitors to the farm want to suit up and take a peek inside while Brandon is doing his routine check on them. I don’t remember anyone turning down the opportunity. The next step is to see if we’ll be able to harvest any honey soon, because we want to make sure the bees have plenty to get them through the winter.
Fun Bee Facts (according to beekeeper anecdotes)
- Bees stay warm in the winter by huddling together inside the hive and trapping in heat. They then rotate who has to “bee” on the outside of the huddle, just like us band nerds used to do when trying to stay warm on the sidelines at football games.
- In the hive, there is a role akin to undertaker. These bees remove any dead bees by pushing them out of the hive and onto the ground. Bees are so hardcore.
- If the hive gets too large to accommodate its current dwelling, the old queen will take about half of the workers and swarm to start a new colony. The rest of the bees will stay and rebuild their numbers with a new queen.