After about a decade of reading about bees and beekeeping, watching documentaries, listening to interviews and getting up the courage, yesterday I officially became a bee keeper and was inaugurated in various ways--none of which included getting stung.
Just between you and me, I have to confess that when the experienced beekeeper set that box of buzzing bees down at my feet, he might as well have been handing me a shredding scroll written in Latin. I looked down and forgot every book and video and wondered how I would ever get the damn thing open and the bees deposited into our lesbian-built bee hive! It seemed far more complicated than any six-sided object should ever be...
I'll spare you the stories of my adrenaline combination of excitement, glee, and panic and get right down to what the books don't tell you: shaking the bees into the hive does not result in a nice, tidy pile of newly-homed bees and bees poop.
As soon as the can of syrupy whatever capping the bees traveling berth was lifted off, bees starting buzzing out. I had to try to slip the queen cage out and get her hung up in the hive and get the box tipped and shaken relatively quickly and that was a bit of a bumbly challenge. I actually dropped the queen into the box accidentally and had to leave her there while I did my gently, yet authorative shaking. I then used my long-handled screwdriver to gently lift the cage and get her hung up on one of the bars of our top bar hive--holding her in place with another bar. Meanwhile, bees were a-buzzing!
Looking into the air and trees above our yard, thousands of bees were flying about. They quickly honed in on the hive box and as I closed it all back up, the cloud of bees was already starting to dissapate.
Within about an hour, things had settled down quite nicely in our back yard, but that's when we started to notice little brown spots on EVERYTHING. What the heck? My clothes, all the lawn furniture, the deck, even Tillie, our teal-green PT Cruiser parked in the front driveway, were all covered with the little splots of brown. I should have been more curious when my 23-year-old daughter, Lucy, who was beekeeper number 2 for the adventure, asked if it was raining in the midst of the great bee dump. Raining? I thought for a second, naw, the sun is out!
Turns out, (I think) that bees relieve themselves when they fly. So all those 14,000 bees (give or take) were probably so happy to be let loose over a nice green garden after their long journey! I can honestly tell you, dear reader, that not one single book, article or movie warned me about the bee poop. So, all of you aspiring beekeepers out there, I'm laying down a little realness for you. I can't help but wonder, if my neighbors are wondering what the little brown spots are on their lawn furniture?