Monday, April 27, 2009

One year...

Today is my beekeeping anniversary. One year ago our first hive arrived, strapped together with screens covering the entrances.

It was a bit scary to see just how many bees were sticking their legs thru that screen and the volume of buzzing coming from our new hive. Yikes - I remember having a panicky feeling that I was so not ready.

Then I got a smell of the hive as saw the girls fly out. I swear it was the smell that won me over. Beeswax and the hive smell gets me every time. If there is a Beeswax Anonymous, I am a candidate.

I picked up my new bees today - my lucky bees. We installed the package in the new hive. Thewhole idea of "installing" bees cracks me up. It sounds so interchangeable and mechanical that way.

Well, I am here to tell you it is not. The experience of pouring bees into a new hive is ... frankly exhilarating. Every set of bees has its own smell and temperament. These bees gave me a great feeling. I was expecting to call the new queen lucky but her name is really Trey - this is our third hive on the deck. Where once a single family home stood, we now have a hive development!

Welcome to the second year of beekeeping!

Lucky Hive

A couple of weeks ago at the April meeting of the Worcester County Beekeeper's Association, I won a hive. I won the entire hive down to the bees.
The donor of the hive and bees is George O'Neil of Autumn Morning Farms. The donation was in gratitude for the help the WCBA members have given him as he's retired from the military and started his new endeavor.
He was amazing. No one knew what their mysterious red raffle tickets were for, but he insisted that we all have one. He was really excited about the unknown prize and drew out the process of picking and announcing the winner. Clearly he was having fun.
First he called out the three numbers everyone had on their ticket. Then he called "6" only to be met with groans. Then he called out another "6" and said the prize was for a hive. Everyone got excited, especially at my table - we all had all the numbers so far. Then George pause and said he would throw in a package of bees as well. He called a "5" and my companion next to me lamented that he was merely one number off.
Then, after a few more seconds, it started to sink in that it was MY number! Yay for me - a new hive, new frames, and new bees. George was tickled - partially at my utter shock and partially that he was the joyful cause of it!
Still stunned, I loaded the new equipment in to my car in the pouring rain and rehearsed just how I was going to tell my sweetheart that we were getting a new colony of bees.
Thanks George, not just for the bees, but for the reminder of just how good it feels to give. When our hands are open to give, they are also open to recieve. I hope the universe is gives you something wonderous.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A New Hope

We named our new queen, who has a green spot, Hope. And she was aptly named - she's brought hope back to me as a beekeeper. As some of you know, my first 11 months of beekeeping were tumultuous at best.

Yesterday was a huge change. I just wanted to check both hives to make sure there was plenty of larvae.

My smoker stayed lit. My bees were calm. There were lots of bees. Larvae was plentiful. No bees flew in my face. I didn't get stung.

And in one moment with Hope's hive open, looking down at her and watching a forager doing the waggle dance - I got it. I really got it. This is how beeing is suppose to be.

And it is a beautiful thing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Beautiful Bees

I checked my hives on Thursday to see if the new queen had been released. She had not so I broke open her cage so she could start her new life. The bees responded beautifully to her but they wouldn't get off her queen cage! I had to leave it inside the hive on top.

The other hive had been declared dead by a very experienced beekeeper. We had not seen much brood when we checked on it in March. Another beekeeper said not to worry, that it was still early. My queen was fine and to check again later. Well, this is one of those ask ten beekeepers a question and you get a dozen answers moment.

I picked one frame to look at out of the 20 in the hive and amazingly, shockingly, it was the exact frame that held the Red Queen. Not only had she made it thru the winter but was starting to lay worker bees. Her girls are in the picture.

I feel like a real beekeeper again - I have bees.