Let me just say to start; this experience puts a whole new meaning to the saying, “She has a bee in her bonnet.” That’s just a little hint of how things went yesterday evening when I moved the girls into my shiny new top bar hive.
Here was the plan; I had strategically placed top bars in my Langstroth
hive 4 weeks ago. I had also ordered a queen for the new top bar hive that my brother in law built for me. Thank you Don! It truly is a work of art! I was going to go over to the hives behind the community garden, give the girls a few puffs of smoke and calmly, skillfully remove the top bars, which I was hoping would be built out with a little honey and some brood(baby bee cells). I was then going to just as calmly and skillfully transfer these bars to my new top bar hive. I was then going to hang the queen cage between the frames, shake some more worker bees in the hive, leave them some sugar syrup, then quietly shut the lids on both hives and return home with a smile on my face of a job well done.
Things in my life often don’t go quite as planned. Here is a recount of what actually happened when I split my hive. My sweet and brave friend decided to join me on this adventure/nightmare what ever you decide to call it. I hope everyone has a friend like her that will jump into your adventure with both feet. Sometimes she jumps into mine or I jump into her’s. Often times our adventures get a bit crazy, so much so, that people have started calling us “Lucy and Ethel”. I think you get the idea. She happens to be the best photographer ever, so she was all set to take some fabulous pictures and hand me the smoker every once in a while. She did indeed take some amazing pictures, up until the point things started to go South, at which time she needed both hands free to hold on for dear life or more correctly help me hold on for dear life!
We cracked the top off the hive, gave a little smoke to get the girls to concentrate on the up coming fire instead of us. My friend even said, “Everything seems pretty calm so far.” To which I replied, “Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet. Hang on for the ride” Everything went quite well as we removed the bars from the top box. The girls had worked hard building out some comb for me. I lifted that box off and set it aside, two more to go. This is when I felt it. Despite the fact that I had worn a protective screened helmet thing, I felt a bee climb up my neck into my ear. Let me repeat that; I felt a bee climb up my neck and into my ear! Now, I think even the most serene individual probably would be unhinged by this feeling. Seeing as I am not a particularly serene individual in the first place, as you might have guessed, I did not react well to this turn of events. Everything in me was screaming RIP OFF THAT HOOD THING AND GET THE *<..! BEE OUT OF YOUR EAR! But then my brain reminded me that there were about 400 bees on the outside of that hood just waiting for a piece of me! You know when you tilt your head to the side to get the water out of your ear? Well that’s what I did, except with a lot more cussing. Works with water, not so much with bees. It wasn’t really an option to give up and go home at this point, after all “the show must go on” So throughout this whole bee adventure I can feel a dying bee squirming around inside my ear. Not to mention the pain and the swelling shut part. I think now you can see what I meant about the nightmare part of the adventure.
We went through the second box taking out the top bars and transferring them to the new top bar hive. Although our smoker was working well, by this time the girls have their defensive maneuvers on in full force. Well, what we though was full force. Turns out there is another level of defense we hadn’t even cracked into yet. Let me just let you in here on a interesting/terrifying bee fact; when you get stung by a bee they release a pheromone that pretty much paints a target on your forehead for the whole hive to see and go for. They went for it. About this time I got stung again on the cheek. You know, compared to the bee in the ear thing, big freak’ in deal! We kept going. Amazingly my friend stayed calm through all this and stayed right by my side. Hooray for friends that are calm in the storm! The last bar we pulled out had just what I wanted to see; brood. The queen had laid a full comb of baby bees. It was a beautiful sight. However by this time the girls were attacking my gloves full force. Alarmingly some of them were getting through! Next time I approach my girls I will have leather gloves on! Thick leather gloves!
It took all we had in us to close up both hives and head home. Sadly there was no shaking of extra
workers into the new hive as planned. I really don’t think there are enough bees in the new hive to make it through the Winter. We had done the best we could have, fought the good fight and all that. We headed home where my friend and family tended to my wounds, gave me Benadryl and a stiff drink.
My family knew things had gone a bit awry when I walked in the door and called out loudly, “Get me a flashlight and tweezers. I have a bee in my ear!” My hubby said, “You are the most determined individual I have ever known.” While I have seen this trait in my kids, I thought it was from my husband’s gene pool. Perhaps my kids have a double dose of determined. Watch out world!
So that sums up my latest bee adventure. We did grab a frame of honey on our way out. I think everyone would agree that we deserved it. It tasted amazing! Sweetest honey I ever tasted! Isn’t that the way, when we really have to work for something the reward is always sweeter. Right before I passed out for the evening I muttered, “My goal was for my friend to not get stung tonight, mission accomplished!” Then the Benadryl and the boos kicked in and lights out.