Back in "BEES"ness!!!

Woodman and Ian with one of the swarms
Saturday was a very eventful day for us.  We got up early, dressed and headed out the door on our way to Grantsville.  Let me tell you, that is the LONGEST drive.  Out past the Oquirrh Mountains and through Toole all to get to a little building stuffed full of bees and surrounded by fanatics awaiting their buzzing hoards.  We bought two Queens and two full swarms of bees.  The type of bees that we bought are called Italians, they are more gentle than other varieties and can easily be handled without stinging.  The guy next to us pulled up in a van and loaded eighteen swarms.  Each swarm is about 2,000 bees, give or take a few.  They come in boxes, each box has a Queen attached in a little tiny box of her own.  The large box has a can of sugar water to feed the bees until they reach their destination.  We also spritzed ours down with extra sugar water before, during, and after the drive home.  The boxes each have a number of hitchhiker bees clinging to the outside.  They hitch a ride from Northern California in hopes of being coordinated into the hive.  Most are vacuumed off, but ours we left on, they had made such an effort, why not give them a chance to go all the way?

A swarm, with hitchhikers on the outside of the box

Ian, so interested in the bees
To put the bees in the prepared hive takes a little skill.  The Queen's box must be removed, the cork replaced with a marshmallow so that she can eat her way out but not too quickly.  The Queen's box is then tacked into place on the racks in the hive, this will be removed in a week.  The large box of bees is then tapped to shake all the bees to the bottom of the box and then they are dumped over the hive.  Eventually, they all find their way into the hive, the box that was left by the hive, still covered in bees, is then removed, and the bees start their house keeping.  I had an unfortunate accident when, Ian, my three-year old, decided to lift the tab holding the Queen's box in place and drop her into the swarm.  Guess who's hand fit down into the box (I'll give you a hint, it wasn't Woodman's).  I had to reach my brave glove covered hand into the swarm, find the Queen and assemble the box, with gloves only.  No mask, no smoker, we were loosing the bees and it had to be done right away!  I was fine until the bees started flying up my nose!  A hysterical screaming freak-out followed (no there is no youtube video...rats!!!) as I flew across the back of the farm shaking my hair, ripping off clothes and getting the crap stung out of me.  I got stung on the face and neck a bunch of times.  My neck is quite sore, but I am sure I will recover!

The Queen's box, getting ready to go into the hive
We were very unfortunate this last year with the bees, during a super cold freeze (5-degrees below zero) we lost out hive.  The poor bees froze right in the midst of their busy little lives.  Larvae emerging were frozen before they completely hatched, so there were a lot of dead bees frozen into the comb structures.  We were told to just leave everything, but freeze it so the mice wouldn't find it.  These combs are already built up, which will be an advantage to our new swarms.  They have already removed a large portion of the dead bees and are cleaning house!  We are hoping to be much more successful this year.  The bees are off to a great start, there is an old apricot tree in bloom right outside the hives, which gives the bees some easy nectar.  Cross your fingers that we will have the most amazing honey this year, packed with local pollen!!!

Bees finding their way into the hive

Both boxes on getting settled, after all the drama!!!


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