Our Adventure in Beekeeping

Last summer we decided to venture into beekeeping.  My husband had tried beekeeping when he was younger, and unfortunately his hives died out due to a disease.  He was ready to try again!  Last spring he placed an order for two hives that were shipped to us via USPS.  He then ordered two “beekeeping starter” packages that included hive supers, gloves, veils, smokers, hive tools and bee brushes.   The bees arrived on my husband’s 30th birthday– how perfect!  We were ready to go!  Even though we were super excited for the honey, we didn’t expect to get any the first year.  The bees need to make enough honey for themselves first, before we can get our greedy little hands in there.  Until they started making honey to feed off of, we supplied them with sugar water.  They sucked that stuff down fast!

However, we DID end up getting honey our first year.  But not from the first two hives we purchased.  Instead, my husband decided we needed to buy 10 (TEN!!!) hives from a local beekeeper who was selling his entire hobby beekeeping operation.  The guy placed an ad in the local paper, and apparently received several calls from people who wanted to buy.  But he was very selective.  He wanted the hives to go to someone who had at least somewhat of a beekeeping background, and would have the time and dedication the hives would need.  He actually turned people down–people that were ready to pay him his asking price!  My husband ended up being the exact kind of person the seller was looking for.

Then we had to arrange to pick them up.  My first lesson was that you can’t move bees during the day.  They leave the hive and collect pollen, and then come back at night.  So we took a trailer over around 8 PM and basically had no idea what this process was going to entail.  The seller handed us a staple gun and some light mesh wire, and said something about closing off the entrance so the bees stay in the hive during the moving process.  Wow, we thought, we better get started.  We put on our veils and gloves, but after my husband got stung a few times he finally put on a full suit.  I stuck with my veil and gloves, and long sleeves of course, because I was just staying to the side to hand tools to my husband.  If you don’t bother the bees, they won’t bother you.

After getting all of the hives closed up, we had to prop them onto a cart and push them up the ramp into the trailer.  All of the hives were heavy, but some had 3 or 4 supers.  One super full of honey can weigh over 50 lbs.  Thank goodness we brought helpers.

We hopped into the truck, and I started to hear a buzzing.  Not just a oh there’s a bee somewhere nearby kind of buzzing, but a THERE IS A BEE DIRECTLY NEXT TO MY EAR kind of buzzing.  It was caught in my hair.  And I freaked.  I was sitting in the backseat, so I threw the top half of my body into the front seat and made a friend of ours dig through my hair and find the bee.  It did not end well for the bee, but I still had not gotten stung…yet.

When we got home we unloaded the hives and lined them in the yard between our driveway and our field.  My husband had set plastic pallet-like frames on the ground, in a way that the hives would tilt forward.  This allows for water to flow out of the hive.  We were almost done setting all of the hives in place, and  I forget what I was doing, but I finally got a little too close the hive and apparently upset a bee.  Because it stung me.  At first I didn’t even notice it, but when I realized what had happened I decided to head towards the house for the night.  It really didn’t hurt that bad, but it was after 10 at this point and I was done.

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I’ll be honest, the whole situation of moving the bees was actually very stressful.  I walked into it completely blind, without having any idea what to expect.  I actually think my husband was a little unprepared, too.  Now I think my husband was a little bit more prepared for all of the supplies that came with the hives, but I was not.  Before moving the hives we had went over to the seller’s house and picked up everything else.  After getting a few things from his garage I thought we were done, but more stuff just kept coming.  And coming. And coming. Then we went into his house to get even more stuff.  Before I knew it the bed of the truck was completely full, and so was the backseat.  The main reason I was in such shock was because I had absolutely NO idea what to do with the majority of the stuff.  That’s when the What did I just get myself into? hit me.

Fast forward a few months, and we got almost 10 gallons of honey between two harvests.  We also lost some hives, possibly to a yellow jacket invasion, but we aren’t sure.  But just a few weeks ago on a sunny and mild day, I took a walk to check out all of the hives, and saw a lot of bees in action.  I was able to get a quick video of the bees, too.

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