New bees!

New Hive

Not for me (bother!), but for one of Hubby’s now-former coworkers. Already an accomplished beekeeper in my book—last fall he gave us a bunch of honey, and had plenty to share with everyone else at the office—he invited us over to watch him add a new hive to his yard. It was quite an experience!

Due to some early-morning spousal miscommunication (who hasn’t been there?), the only camera I had with me was my little Powershot purse camera, but I managed to get a sparse handful of photos to share. At the top of the post you see the final result—a new hive quite literally abuzz with bees.

New Hive

The aborted frame-sharing procedure.

The whole process started fairly simply—a small crate, a queen bee and 3,000 of her workers inside. Our host, Erik, attempted to transfer one of the frames full of pollen from his original hive over to give the new kids a solid start, but Erik and his son could not locate the queen and feared inadvertently transferring her to the new hive or having her fall to the ground (queens, of course, cannot fly, and apparently workers don’t know to pick her up and put her back by the entrance—no, really, should not nature have figured this simple procedure out by now?).

Bienenkoenigin 43a cropped

Queen Bee, by Bienenkoenigin_43a.jpg: Waugsberg derivative work: B kimmel (Bienenkoenigin_43a.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 , CC-BY-SA-3.0  or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 Thus Erik and his son simply moved on to installing (releasing?) the new hive into their new home. First, the queen is removed; she’s in a little screened box so she can be fed, the entrance blocked by a piece of candy the workers will eat away. This entire little box is put into the new hive. I actually got to see her, but unfortunately my photo of her did not turn out too wonderfully. You’ll just have to trust me: It was very cool to see an actual queen bee of the non-human variety!

Then…the fun part. The part where everyone watching save the crazy vintage-wearing gal with a camera began to back away, back away, back away: The part where our brave beekeepers opened the crate by removing the tin can and shaking—yes, shake, as in slamming the crate onto the top of the new hive and shaking away—the crate full of 3,000 bees over their lovely new home.

New Hive

This was minor sensory overload—not only were bees whizzing all around, over and under, and the noise! It was incredible, as you can no doubt imagine—3,000 new bees plus the original hive just going about its daily business (honestly, they seemed not to care about the madness next door). Moreover, since it was obviously a bright, sunny day, the bees zipping overhead cast shadows against the fence that I was a bit startled by at first.

New Hive

Happily, no one got stung, not even me. There was one rather unhappy bee that decided to chase a spectator (not me, happily), but that was the only ‘incident’. Frankly, if I’d been literally shaken out of my safe spot, however temporary, I’d probably have been a little irritable myself.

Thus ended my exciting free entertainment for that afternoon. That little Powershot must be nearing the end of its life, because the video I took did not make it over to my computer, which is too bad—it would have allowed you to get a sense of the noise and excitement of the new hive. I wasn’t nervous because really, the bees were so busy figuring out what was happening they could not have been less interested in we humans—something to keep in mind for those of you who are afraid of bees. If you leave them alone, for the most part, they’ll return the favour!

Community Gardening- Wartime Food Production at Rowney Green, Worcestershire, England, UK, 1943 D17525

Community Gardening- Wartime Food Production at Rowney Green, Worcestershire, England, UK, 1943 Mr S Dodsley, chief bee keeper of the Food Production Club at Rowney Green, Worcestershire, tends his bee hives. According to the original caption “he keeps some twenty hives, specialises in breeding queen bees. His advice is always there for club members who keep one or two hives”. He feeds the bees with a sugar and water solution.
By Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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