My first beehive

I love reading – always have. There is so much you can learn from reading, so many places you can go. But sometimes there comes a point when you just have to do it. Dive in and learn from trial and error, the school of hard knocks, experiences. Because somethings – like staying calm as a dozen bees crawl up your arm and sweat pours down your back whilst holding a frame covered in bees and your children are curiously watching you for cues on when to panic – you just can’t get from a book. So I made the decision in early, early spring to get a hive of my own. So where does one house 50,000+ bees? How about the backyard? Seems perfect – I have been putting in gardens and slowly converting my “grass” into a bee-lawn (more about this in a future post!). The land beside me, for now at least, is undeveloped and looks pretty close to bee paradise if you ask me. And I can just imagine myself, early morning as the sun is coming up and the children are still nestled in their beds (ok – this will have to be like 5 am early for this plan to work), I’ll make myself a cup of coffee and wander out to sit in peace and watch as the bees start flying off for a busy day of work. Sounds like heaven. So casually I mention to my boys, anticipating the excitement over this new adventure, that we will be setting up my bees soon. “What bees? Where? If you think I’m ever going to play outside again you better not put a bunch of bees out there!!!”. You see, my oldest, when he was 5 years old, got stung by a yellow jacket. He had always enjoyed bug-watching with me, and was curious and inquisitive about creepy and crawly things. When he was stung, on his pinky as he swung a cartoonish-looking red plastic golf club near a wasp nest, it was like the entire insect world had betrayed him. Over time he has gotten less fearful of most insects – but anything with yellow and black stripes that flies is on his “never want to see again” list. Ok this is a hurdle but I saw it coming and I’m sure he will forgive me one day. But then I start to consider the neighbours. There is a family that lives behind us and they are dear friends of ours and our kids all play together all the time. And the man is allergic to bees. So I ask them – how do you feel about me getting bees and how allergic is allergic to you? Afterall, I have found that a large percentage of people will volunteer the fact that they are allergic to bees when they hear I am studying them, and this is far greater than the number of people reported to have bee venom allergies in any of the literature that I’ve ever looked at. Well, turns out he is full on allergic – like anaphylactic, rush to the hospital, need epi and stabilization stat allergic. But they tell me to go ahead as they know how important the bees are to me and they are just that awesome! Umm, ok – I am super excited about the hive but not sure how comfortable I am with the plan now. With the threat of my oldest never feeling sunshine on his face again and knowing that if my neighbour ever does get stung I will assume it was MY bee and feel fully responsible, I decide to look for a new home to place my hive. So I start asking around at the various farms in my area thinking this will be a win-win as I get a place out of town for my bees and they get the bonus of all those happy little pollinators working their crops for free. Only now we are deep into spring and no self-respecting farmer has time to call me back. Fortunately a friend comes to my rescue with family in the next town over that are willing to host my bees! So I go over for a meet-and-greet and they couldn’t be nicer and have a beautiful property where I can “set up shop” so to speak. I give them some time to check with their neighbours and I get the green-light. The hive is a go! Woohoo! So it is now the end of June and I go on-line to order my bees and what do you know – sold out! Feeling defeated, yet still determined, I reach out to some beekeepers/queen and nuc producers that I trust and they are able to help me out! So we go back and forth by email a few times making arrangements which – given the time of year and how busy it is for beekeepers – takes a little while. And so this is how I ended up mid-July on the hottest day I do believe ever existed finally setting up the hive I had been dreaming of since when it was so cold outside that I couldn’t feel my toes. And here I am immensely happy as I get my new crew all settled into their home sweet home.

Putting on a veil
Transferring a frame

Today I am fighting the urge to run over there and take a peek at them – I know they will be much happier if I just leave them alone to do their thing and get adjusted. Next Saturday we will be reunited and I will post an update on how they are doing so stay tuned….(see what I did there – now you are anxiously waiting for the next 6 days too!)

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