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Here Come the Bees!

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Let the beekeeping begin! As you may recall, last fall Paul took the Rutgers beekeeping course. Over the winter he ordered the necessary equipment, including placing his order for two packages of bees.  The hives were painted and set up a few weeks ago and we got the call yesterday that the bees were ready for us.  At the last minute we chose a new hive location because our original sunny site was a bit high traffic and we got concerned for the safety of the hive.  The hives are now located at the way back of the yard, where they should get nice morning sun and be well situated and safely out of harm’s way.  Now, I’m not afraid of bees and I’m very excited about the honey, but…I do have a “thing” about seeing large quantities of small things, especially if those things are alive. (It was a nightmare when James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces was super popular because I flinched and wanted to throw up every time I saw the book at the library.) So the thought of seeing 14,000 buzzing bees en masse kind of grossed me out. (hmm…that number is now in question. It’s a lot, let’s just say. 6lbs) But you know me-I did want to take pictures and am excited about this venture. So, if you’re like me, be forewarned that this post has pictures of many bees!

Here is Paul with one of the cases of bees.
Paul with 7000 bees
You open it up and remove the case with the queen.
Opening up
She is held in place by a little “candy” that the bees will eat away to release her.  She goes into the hive first.
The queen comes in a little case
Then, and this is very scientific, you DUMP the bees in.
Shaking the bees out
Here’s a video (brief) of the dumping:

And here they are (I can barely stand to look at this photo, personally, but it is cool.)
In the hive

The bees (while still in the case) were gently misted with some sugary water to mellow them a bit. That same sugar solution is in a trough of sorts at the top of the hive. This will feed the bees for the first several weeks. I have to say I am super proud of how totally calm and mellow Paul was throughout the procedure. He was stung 3 times, which isn’t very many times considering how many there were, but one of the times was right on his face under his eye and the bee left quite a bit of venom on it. And the kids! I really have to brag about my kids here. I think a lot of kids would have shrieked and flapped as the bees flew around a bit (not a ton, but a fair amount.) They both remained totally calm, no one freaked out, no one hit at the bees (we’ve really stressed how once a bee stings you it dies, it doesn’t want to die, we don’t want it to die, please don’t hurt the bees), and no one was stung. So bravo, Clark and Tabby! It’s not easy being calm when one is literally in your hair next to your ear!


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

8 responses »

  1. So exciting! I think you’re all going to have a lot of fun and learn a lot from this. By the way, “The Keeper of the Bees” by Gene Stratton-Porter is my favorite story involving bee-keeping! It’s a ‘grown-up’ book – very old-fashioned and melodramatic but also very soothing.

    • Didn’t she write Girl of the Limberlost? I’ll have to check it out-you know I love an old-fashioned soothing book!

  2. That’s really exciting. Our neighbor is a farmer and has bees. I can see the hives from my house. I would have been the one swatting and running away from the bees! I am gradually learning to be calm around bees because after all, as a gardener of flowers and vegetables, I’m around them a lot and I know how important they are. Good luck with the beekeeping! Maybe you could try to help out with your eyes closed. 😉

    • Thanks! I’m really curious to see if I notice a difference in my flower and vegetable gardens this year with having the hives right here in our yard.

  3. Yes, she did! She has at least a dozen books – I’ve read most of them. Keeper of the Bees, The Harvester, and Girl of the Limberlost are my favorites – Freckles is very good too. I love all of the nature description in her books – when I saw my first Luna moth a couple years ago in the North Carolina mountains I knew exactly what it was thanks to her – it was overwhelming how much it affected me to see it!

  4. My husband started beekeeping and I was reluctant, too. No way was I going to go out there among thousands of bees. That was 3 years ago, and now I’m just as involved as he! We’re up to 6 hives on our little acre, and adding 20 chickens. Right now, the 20 chicks are in a big box in my living room!!

  5. homeisherewithyou

    We just bought our first house and I’ve thought about beekeeping for a while. My husband is absolutely terrified of them, so that kind of puts a damper on things. I should probably not show him the video of the bee dumping; there’s no way he’d be as calm as your dog. Haha! I’d love to see how the hives turn out. How long do they usually take to produce honey?

    • Yeah, I think it would be really hard to do if you are afraid of bees. Poor Paul said he’s starting to get nervous just knowing it’s likely he’ll get stung each time he goes in. We stocked up on meat tenderizer for the stings! Apparently we won’t get honey this summer, but will next year. I’m not really sure the details on that or why…..


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