Easter Bee Thinking

Easter weekend proved to be quite interesting and exciting in my bee world.  I feel that in learning about bees a portion of my brain before untapped is being utilized and filled with knowledge that will benefit me for life.  Sound crazy?  Maybe it does if you don’t know much about bees.  I’ve always found bees to be fascinating and fun to watch.  The biggest difference is that now I am fascinated and connected.  I am perpetually amazed of my involvement with these sagacious creatures and their response to me.

So far I haven’t dealt with any angry bee colonies.  I realize that bee keeping is not predictable on a colony by colony basis.  It is a little crazy but I sense the bees recognize that I am there to help them find shelter and safety.  When removing a swarm I have a need to try to aid each and every bee to arrive in the hive box unharmed and safe. Mr. Floyd tells me, “you can’t get every one”.  I understand how he is right, but I’m determined to get as many as is possible.  I’m learning that with the greatest caution, care and dexterity exercised in removing a swarm or colony of bees from a site where they are not welcome, does not insure that one will be successful in retaining and maintaining the bees.  This is what I experienced over Easter weekend when I accompanied Mr. F on two separate bee swarm calls.  Read on….

On Saturday evening adoring hubby, who now is the proud of owner of his very own “bee keeper suit”, thanks to Mr. Floyd, and I tagged along on a bee call.  When we arrived the homeowner met us outside in the front yard, I suppose to be sure we didn’t miss the baseball size “swarm”.  This was the smallest “swarm” I’ve seen to date.  It was in fact so small that it was void of a queen and we could only capture a few bees.  This adventure was not even photo worthy.  Ahhh..”welcome to bee keeping”!

The next day being Easter Sunday I didn’t expect any bee calls but lo and behold, as you’ve most likely read in my post about Easter Bees, right about the cocktail hour Mr.  Floyd called with news of a swarm, not too far away.  We decided to go with him and let Easter dinner wait.  This time when we arrived a little girl with thick, round glasses, was running around trying to catch her black dog and chattering about the bees on the front porch. Shortly after we pulled in, her grandpa came out to greet us. There were remnants of an earlier egg hunt and what Mr. F called land mines, or dog poop scattered about the yard. We approached the porch with caution as you never know exactly what you’ll find. Clustered at the end of the front porch was a large swarm of bees, happily climbing over each other and buzzing quietly.

We dodged the land mines, back to our trucks, put on our bee suits, gathered our equipment and set about to capture this Easter swarm.  It was necessary to reach them with a small step-ladder.  I was elected to go up with a dust pan and scoop the bees into a bucket, then dump the bees on a sheet in front of a bee hive.  I began to scoop and dump the bees into the bucket always keeping my eye out for the queen.  After quite a while I came off of the ladder and we all began to observe the bees trying to spot the queen.  After about two hours of looking and watching, brushing bees and scooping bees, no queen was sited.  The bees however made their way into the hive – I think they know it means safety, and usually it is because the queen is there.  Now, as always I continued to coax each bee into the box until Mr. Floyd told me time was up and to close the box. Daylight was fading, it was too dark to see without a flash light and we knew finding the queen would need to wait until the next day.  Satisfied that we’d done the best we could we gathered all our equipment, the hive full of buzzing bees, said our good-byes and headed home to grill our salmon and enjoy another glass of wine.

Mr. Floyd took the buzzing hive of bees home.  The next day he searched with no luck for the queen, but placed the bees in his bee yard none the less.  Later in the day he called to brief me on the status of the Easter bees – they pulled up stakes and left!  It’s mind-boggling.  Was there ever a queen?  Did we leave her behind with the land mines?  Were they just restless bees, on the move until they find just the right location?  We will never know the answer to these questions.  We will continue to remove bees from unwanted places and we will continue to be amazed at their independence.  I am satiated with the fullness in my head and heart from my adventures with these tiny creatures.

My bee hives grew by one story each this weekend.  Two hives are now 4 stories tall and two are now 3 stories tall.  I added “supers” to my hives to provide space for the girls to begin the honey flow.  Texas is a bloom with wildflowers of many colors, yellow, bright lavender, reds, oranges, and pale pinks.  This burst of color is yielding fertile foraging grounds for honey bees.  My hives are full of brood and honey for their own consumption.  A queen resides in each hive, all beautiful, strong and prolific in producing eggs.  I say a little prayer daily that they will continue to flourish.  Soon they will begin to make honey for me.  I find the idea that they will create this succulent, golden nectar and share it with me truly amazing .  I eagerly anticipate that first taste of fresh, wildflower honey produced by my own bees.  It can’t be anything except splendid!

Stay tuned….

Easter Day Swarm

Removing Swarm Hive

Hive with old comb removed

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