Thursday, April 21, 2011
That's My Bee
And this one too.
How do I know? Well the apple tree hasn't had a single bee working the newly blossomed flowers over the past week until I brought this home.
Yup. I drove out to Walnut Creek, plopped the vibrating box in the trunk of the Prius, and drove the bees home. Don't worry, the hive was sealed shut so no bees were flying around the car. I was expecting to be unnerved by a violent buzzing coming from the back, but the wood box really muffled their hum.
I purchased the bees from a Bay Area beekeeper who sells off his swarms along with the base deep and frames. They weren't cheap, but what I liked about it was that I could get started without having to chase down my own swarm and figure out how to establish the hive by myself. I'd like to have a little more experience with the bees before I advance into swarm catching. I also liked the fact that the bees come with a guarantee. If the hive fails within the first three months, the guy will replace them for free.
When I arrived home, I set them in a secret spot in the backyard where no one ever goes, right under the neighbor's two apple trees. As soon as I popped out the protein patty corks, the girls came out to explore their new surroundings. I had a cinder block stand set up as a base for the hive then realized that I needed a framed base for ventilation and to be able to place buckets under the legs to prevent ants. I moved the hive - without any bee gear, mind you, cause I'm balls ass crazy like that - over one foot while I put the stand in place. The slight adjustment completely disoriented the bees. They couldn't figure out where the hive entrance was. This after only two hours of being at their new location. Their homing instinct is more accurate than a GPS device. Amazing! And a little weird. I mean how come they can't find their way over a span of 12 inches? I noticed they were getting a tad agitated from the move so I made a makeshift bee veil consisting of a basket on my head and an orange-pink-yellow swirly see through curtain thrown over the top. Never mind my ridiculous ensemble, the thing worked as I endured no stings. I put the hive back in its original place, which then set everyone to right.
Unfortunately, the buckets under the legs didn't seem to deter the ants. By morning the hive was crawling. I kinda freaked. Not even 24 hours after arrival I was being robbed! I couldn't understand how the ants had gotten on the hive. It's not like they can swim, right? Ok, I guess they can swim. With a little online research-o-rama, I found out that I was supposed to put oil in the buckets. Um.... yeah... I knew that.
Though I have had experience with bees, albeit 18 years ago when I was interning on a small organic farm, my knowledge of their inner workings is rudimentary at best. So I've pulled out Sue Hubbell's A Book of Bees to refresh my memory and I plan to join the local beekeepers' association. For over 20 years now, I have dreamed of having a hive of my own. I am beyond thrilled with our new additions.