This is actually round 2 in my adventures (or attempts) in beekeeping. I tried to keep one hive at my old home many years ago but because of the close proximity to my pool, it was a disaster. All of the bees spent much of their time enjoying the chlorinated water while we dodged them to swim and eventually one of my daughters got stung on the diving board. So that was the end of that!
It is a much different situation at my new home. We have a lot of property and a beautiful pond for the bees to enjoy. I tend to just go for it when trying something new .. so, I figured if we were going to give this beekeeping thing a try… and we wanted to harvest a bunch of honey, why only get one hive?
We got four.
That’s 40,000 bees!
We ordered our bees and hives. I set everything up and struggled with location for awhile. I was afraid putting them next to the pond would ruin it for us as we really love to visit and sit there and have coffee on nice days. Luckily, I have a friend from my old town who is also keeping bees and she encouraged me to put them next to the pond as it would be a beautiful addition to it. I’m so glad I listened. The bees really mind their own business and are very peaceful. Their goal is not to sting, it is to build and protect the Queen and the hive. We’ve been coexisting pretty great.
Picking up the bees in the first place was pretty insane to begin with. I showed up at a garden center and there were four boxes with one queen and approximately 10,000 bees inside of each box. I literally picked them up, put them in the back of my jeep (which has no real trunk) and off I went.. even stopped through a drive thru to get a coffee on my way home. All I kept thinking is if the attendant only knew what was in my trunk when handing me my order… oh and also that I better not get in an accident or that would be a major disaster!
At home, we boiled sugar water, filled the feeders in each hive and my fellow beekeeper friend came over to help us load the bees. “Loading” the bees isn’t a very smooth process as it sounds. You basically crack the top of each box open, pull out the Queen box, cover the main box quick as all the bees are inside, uncork one side of the Queen, put her box in between the frames and gather up a lot of bravery to literally dump, hit and shake 10,000 bees into each hive. I wasn’t the best at this job with Hive #1. My partner discovered this is apparently some unknown talent he possesses so he did Hives 2-4 successfully.
Needless to say, we did it! And without a sting.
A few days later, I noticed Hive #4 had little to no activity and Hive #3 had double the activity. I checked and the Queen in #4 had never been released (the bees are supposed to eat through the candy corked side to let her free and the little box should be empty like this one)..
but all of her bees just bailed on her and moved into Hive #3 and left her there.
After talking with the man I purchased the bees from and also my friend that helped us, I decided to go down to the pond today and swap the location of Hive #4 with Hive #3. The thought process is that the bees that are out foraging will follow their flight patterns back into the empty hive and hopefully adopt the abandoned Queen.
I was nervous as I literally had to lift up the hive with about 20,000 bees in it and move it over. I did a Facebook Live of the process if you’d like to see it. It went great and I’m glad I went for it. There are already tons of bees entering Hive #4 now and I’m hoping for the best.
While I was down there, I put in all of the frames I could fit, checked on each hive (and all have been producing comb!) and filled the feeders.
This entire experience has been so amazing and learning about the bees and how they work is so interesting and inspiring. I’m even more invested in helping the environment and these beautiful creatures to thrive now.