Monday, July 03, 2006

how not to get started in beekeeping

A couple weeks ago I remembered that I like bees, and my grandparents said I could keep some in their backyard. But it turns out that if you want to have bees, you are supposed to order them in January and then they are delivered in May and if you don't get them started by the end of May then there is all kinds of doom and they will not be ready in time for winter and will all die horrible deaths etc etc etc. But I ordered some bees anyways, because I am impatient and did not want to wait 11 months to have bees, and I think maybe if I feed them all summer and hope for a mild autumn they might squeeze through the winter, despite this nursery rhyme. And also I ordered a hive. And a feeder and a smoker. But then I never heard back from the place that was supposed to ship my bees, so I assumed they were disreputable, because really no one ships package bees after May because it is too hot and etc, and my bees were never coming, and I gave up, and decided I would order some in January like I was supposed to. So I put the hive together but only this much:

bees


And I was using it as a coffee table. See I didn't paint it or anything. And I didn't put the frames together. And the shipping on my veil and smoker and feeder was delayed but eh.

And then on Saturday at 8:33am I got a call from the post office that I should come get my bees. My bees! They came in a box like this, through the mail, they are from Georgia:

package1

So the post office in South Buffalo is not really accustomed to having a huge buzzing box of three pounds of bees. The post office man said, "I don't like bees" when I signed for my bees.

Then we had to come home and superfast nail all the frames together and install the beeswax foundation and paint the bottom board and try to make a feeder out of a mayonnaise jar since my feeder is not coming until today. And also I didn't have a hive tool or a veil. So I installed my bees in a t-shirt and flip-flops with a butter knife for a hive tool. Although I cheated, because I was supposed to shake them all out of their mailing box, but I got scared on account of not having a veil, so just took the lid off, took the queen out (she is in a separate little box inside the big box), took the cork off of her cage and stuck her in the hive (the hole is plugged with this solid sugar candy stuff, so the bees eat through it after a while, but they will stay with the queen, so this way she doesn't get out until they are used to living in their hive, otherwise they might all fly away and live somewhere else), and then I just put the whole box with the lid off into the second story of the hive. I didn't get stung, but if I had shaken them out there would have been tons of bees flying around in the air, and it is a little unnerving since I haven't worked with bees since the summer of '00 and I never, ever did anything without a veil, and you must remain calm when working with the bees, because if you start to freak out that there are so many bees flying around then you get clumsy, and then once you get stung once there is an alarm pheromone issue and everything goes to hell.

The bad news is that I have to go get the mailing box out today, and the bees are going to be in a worse mood than they were in when they first got here, because now they think they have to defend their hive maybe. And I have to install their real feeder. And I am not supposed to mess with them too much or they freak out and reject the queen because they will think it is her fault. Also I have to finish painting the outer cover and the hive bodies, although that might wait until next week so that I don't molest them too much. Oh and also I noticed that there were ants crawling around a lot last night so I have to lift the hive up onto cinder blocks and sprinkle cinnamon all around it.

Also the bees might be cranky today because it is overcast and windy. The bees like nice weather. I hope UPS brings my veil.

package2

1 comment:

jenoaks said...

wow, that is so cool! i've never known anyone who has bees.