Let’s just begin with an introduction to “Blondie and the Girls” They are my Langstroth hive and a force to be reckoned with. They surround you with their frenetic buzzing. There is nothing subtle about these girls. They are upfront and IN YOUR FACE! Turns out they are a “HOT” hive! I have had so many people ask me, ” Is that a good thing?” NO, NO and NO, think killer bees here. Killer bees are never a good thing! Let me explain;
In the 1950’s in Brazil, someone thought it would be a good idea to breed African bees to European bees to see if they could produce more honey and survive better in a temperate climate. While this was suppose to be a closed experiment, several swarms of African bees escaped! The rest is history! These aggressive bees have been making their way North by breeding with the drones(male bees) in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. Moving steadily North, they have been found as far North as Utah, Colorado and Tennessee. The result of their offspring are bees that build comb beautifully, produce honey magnificently, lay brood amazingly and defeat the enemy EVERY time. Kind of like a Spartan Warrior.
Hi , let me introduce myself; I am the friendly beekeeper; THE ENEMY! Let me repeat that just in case you missed it; I am perceived as the ENEMY! It doesn’t feel good to be the ENEMY when there are fifty thousand Spartan warriors coming at you! It feels REALLY REALLY SCARY! I have faced many things; the loss of my sister, my boyfriend, my mother, the loss of my father. I have had sin crouching at the door many times, like a lion waiting to devour the good I have made in my life, but never have I encountered anything quite like this. I say this, because when it is me; I say bring It!. Give it your best shot, but when it is my Pastor, my daughter ,my son, my friend. This is when I say; these are off limits! These are people you simply cannot have a piece of!
Here is the situation I am faced with; the insurance company of the church perceives a bee hive on the church property, behind the community garden, to be a risk. Just between you and me, I concur. So I have to move these girls. My sister and her family have bravely offered their backyard for a new home for these bees. However, first I must get them under control. How do you get 50,000 Spartan warriors under control, you ask? You re-queen them.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term re-queen, it means that we simply have to find the Africanized queen and kill her. We then replace her with a peaceful civilized European bred queen. It sounds so easy when it is stated like that.
First of all, to find the Africanized queen. That means Blondie. Have I introduced you to Blondie? And we can’t forget the girls. It is the girls I am mainly worried about! The girls are built to defend Blondie at all costs. I REALLY want to get this on video, but I can’t find a camera man brave enough. O.K. to be fair, my son, that I refer to as the “wild one” ,really wants to get a piece of this action, but he is allergic to bees on some level as he had a systemic reaction to a sting early on. Remember what I said about keeping those I love out of harms way? Well, I love him A LOT! So I need a photographer that is not allergic to bees and has a thrill seeking side. A secure bee suit is a must and they can’t talk to me too much before hand as I might start to care about them and then would be trying to watch their back when I will have my hands full watching my own back. This sounds a little like a war zone. When you are dealing with Africanized bees it is a little like that. So, say a prayer for us as we dive into the hive on Thursday April 6th to find Bondie and snuff her out. Buckle your seat belts everyone this should be quite a ride!
Then wish the new queen well as she is introduced on Saturday evening April 8th and let’s all hope she will be much more easy going and congenial than the last monarch. My greatest fear is that these aggressive divas will snuff her out and produce their own Africanized queen. We will have to wait and see. We will also have to think of a name after we see if she makes it. Something sweet and peaceful, please. How about Harmony Hive?
Having said all this about Africanized bees; I am learning that many things can make a hive cranky some of which are: low on stores such as the end of Winter going into Spring, overcrowding, an animal such as a skunk or opossum keeping them up all night or a high pest load. Yes, I can see how these things could make a normally calm group of girls a bit edgy. I guess the main question here is; when some of these things are going on, how cranky are they? I wish bee keepers had a scale from 1-10 similar to a pain scale. 1 being; Your bees are circling around your veil bumping up against it when you work the hive. 10 being; you are sure your girls are out to KILL you and ANYONE that comes near you and they will use any and all avenues at their disposal to do so. This scale would save time when us beekeepers get together. We could say, “Yeah my hive is a 1. It is a wonderful Spring.” Or “My hive is a 10” There would be no need to utter another word and everyone would surround you with comfort, high fives and well wishes. Perhaps their respect for you would go up a notch because you have worked a 10 and lived to tell about it. I am making fun here, but there is a very good post about figuring out if your bees are Africanized or not. Do you have a 1 or a 10? If your curious about your bees click on the link here to find out.
If you are a praying person I would appreciate prayer for protection and eyes to easily spot the queen on Thursday April 6th at about 5:00 in the afternoon. Don’t worry my bee friends have got my back on this and my Father in Heaven is teaching me to find the calm in my storm. If you are bee keeping I hope you are working with a 1 this Spring. If you are working a 10, hats off to you. Let me know when to pray. I just have to say in closing; NEVER A DULL MOMENT here at Bloom Where You’re Planted!