Monday, June 24, 2013

The Bees are Here!

Sunday morning, I arrived bright and early in Brewster, NY to pick up the two top bar nucs I'd ordered way back in January. I had left the house at 5:30 am and had enjoyed a lovely sunrise and relaxing roadtrip. By the time I got to the farm, I was revelling in an absolutely glorious morning.

When Beekeeper Mike met me there, he delivered some bad news. Over the spring, in addition to the super rainy weather, he'd had five bear attacks. The most recent one had come just a few days prior to my arrival and had ravaged one of my nucs. So today, I'd be taking just one them home.

Here is what his top bar nucs look like. They're pretty rough. Not nearly up to my woodworking husband's standards. Just a few pieces of cheap wood and wire mesh stapled together.

The entrance to the nuc was duct-taped, but as you can see in the photo below, it was leaking bees through all kinds of cracks.

Fortunately, I had read a review of that particular apiary somewhere online and was prepared for this possibility. After the nuc was in the car, I wrapped it up in bedsheets to keep the bees inside.

After signing the disclaimers and getting my receipt, I waved a cheery goodbye and headed back home with my precious cargo. I had reached the end of the farm's driveway when I heard a buzzing noise. "Oh, that's nice," I thought, "They're keeping me company." Then a quarter-mile down the road, I noticed that the buzzing was getting louder and sounded more frustrated.

I glanced at the rearview mirror. Several bees had escaped the confines of my sheets and were unhappily trying to find a way out of the rear window.

A little more than halfway home, I had to stop for gas, and quite a few -- at least twenty or so -- bees had begun congregating in the back of the car. At this point I was kind of regretting that I'd taken my Flex, which is a basically a station wagon, which means an open trunk that is part of the interior cabin -- and not my husband's sedan.

The trip from the farm to my house is about 90 minutes, and I'm not normally a speeder, but I'll wager it took me considerably less time than that. And I think I made it home just in time because toward the end there, the number of escapees had doubled, and the buzzing was getting a little too close to the back of my head for perfect comfort.

In any case, I raced into my driveway, unharmed and unpunctured. (A fact which seems to provide a bit of amusement to some of the more experienced beeks on one of the forums I follow.) The bees didn't seem any worse for wear either. I choose to believe they enjoyed sightseeing for a change.

I love how he insisted on protective clothing from
head to leg but then decided to wear flip-flops.
Later that afternoon, my young assistant and I transferred the bars from the nuc to the hive. We couldn't find Queen Hippolyte (Hippolyte was an Amazon, who were all women, so the name seems rather appropriate, don't you think?) which was a bit disappointing. However, everything looked great. Lots of drawn comb and brood.

It's been so much fun watching all the girls. I think this is going to be a really great summer.


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