Today was one of the more productive days in recent memory. This morning, my loyal squad of bratwurst enthusiasts joined me in ambushing all the trees in my backyard. Twelve trees in all, and the difference is amazing. Our backyard looks huge now, although it also looks very hot. Removing all those trees has killed all of the shade back there, which isn’t happy, but considering that I’m going to replace them with fruit trees…. Win/win.
But the big joy of the day was traveling up to SLC to spend the afternoon with my friend Aleisha who invited me to help her with her two hives. This was my first chance to actually work with a hive of bees, and it was amazing. I’m still giddy from the experience. 🙂
The first hive we worked with was just an inspection. You know, making sure they survived the winter, seeing how they were doing, and otherwise making sure that all was well. Sadly, the queen died somewhere along the way, and the hive was dying. When a hive is queenless, one of the worker bees will sometimes start laying eggs, which they can do. However, because worker bees never mate, the only eggs they can lay are drones, which are useless bees. They don’t forage, they don’t gather food, they don’t clean the hive. They just eat. Obviously a drone-filled hive will very quickly die.
Aleisha is going to probably try and get a new queen for that hive, which if she moves fast enough will work just fine. If not a new queen, Aleisha’s goal this year is to catch a swarm, which would also work.
At first, I was somewhat nervous, and I was surprised to see as many bees flying around us. Most of the YouTube videos make it seem like much less. I was especially nervous because my protective gear included a veil, hat, and a long-sleeved white shirt. That was it. I thought there would be problems, but then I realized that Aleisha was wearing a skirt, so… Heck, if she can do it, so can I, right?
I stood back to start, but it was all of two minutes before I was reaching in the hive as well (no gloves), touching the bees, lifting frames, and generally really enjoying myself. About the only time I found myself uncomfortable was when I had to move bees out of the way to put frames, brood boxes, and covers back in place. I think most of that was a general worry of hurting the bees, and it’s something I’ll get used to.
The next task was sorting through frames that had been damaged by wax moths. It was almost depressing to see all of that work done by the bees damaged by stupid moths.
The last task, my favorite, was packaging a box of bees. This was an unusually big package with, I’d guess, close to 10,000 bees. And they were beautiful. A dusty grey with deep brown and tan striping. Aleisha let me do the whole thing myself providing only responses to questions and advice for how she does things. I have been very worried that my head knowledge would not transfer to the practical knowledge, but I was fine. I was comfortable, and oh was I happy. A truly thrilling experience.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had that enlightening experience when you feel like you’ve found something that you really want to do and you can feel like you’ve been guided to it, are being guided in it, and will be guided through out, but I just did. Today. In a stranger’s backyard with a good friend and 30,000 six-legged friends. 🙂
TWO WEEKS UNTIL MY BEES ARRIVE!!! (or as Courtney likes to call them, my mistresses)