Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meltdown

"This is it. I give up. I am done being a beekeeper!" Yes, I said that yesterday.

Shall we backtrack?

We harvested honey this weekend. That part was amazing. Detailed post, coming soon. However, when honey harvest is over, you're left with several sticky frames of honeycomb. I had 10 to be exact. So in order to clean it entirely, it is suggested you put that box (super) of frames back on the hive and the bees will "clean" it out. Within 24 hours, you can return, remove the said box and store it for the winter. Who knew bees were such good housekeepers.

Well I had that box of sticky frames sitting in the bed of Mr. B's truck with intentions of dropping it off at the hive on my lunch break. The bees had other intentions. In fact, the bees (not my bees, random bees) beat me to it. 

When I opened the door to walk outside, I found THOUSANDS of bees surrounding that box and the truck. They were literally fighting over the remaining honey inside. And I was the moron beek who left it out in the open where they had access to it. #lessonlearned

I shut the door and yelled obscenities. Then I called Mr. B and said, "What do I do?" And to think I am supposed to be the experienced beek in this family!

He said, "Just get in the car and drive. When you're going 70mph on the interstate they will all fly out." That sounded good enough to me. So I ran to the garage, grabbed my bee suit, put it on and ran to the truck - trying to get as little bees as possible in the front seat with me. 

As I drove, I was losing bees, but not enough. When I arrived at my hives, I was greeted by the hundreds of bees still in the bed of the truck. 

Fortunately, my bee mentor, talked me through what to do over the phone and I followed his instructions. I got as many of the "foreign" bees out with my bee brush and put the super box back on my hive where it belonged. 

My job at the hive was done, so I left. There were still hundreds thousands of dead bees lying in the truck - they were dead, because other bees killed them in the fight for honey - but majority of the live ones had flown away. So I gathered my things and headed back home. 

The result of bee fights = a pile of dead bees

The worst part was over right? And I survived. 

Wrong. Survived, yes. Worst part, no.


I pulled down my street and into the driveway. In fact, I don't think I had even turned into the driveway, when ANOTHER swarm of bees came diving head first into the truck. They must have been waiting for me to return, so they could go back to feeding off the honey super. 

You must understand, when honey bees find a food source, they do a "bee dance" and tell all of their friends. As my bee mentor put it, "It's like a rumor in high school. The news spreads quick!" He wasn't kidding. Unfortunately, the news that their food source was gone, wasn't spreading nearly as quickly.

At this point I started to panic. I wasn't necessarily afraid. A little, but I was more afraid that they would scare all the kids who were about to get off the school bus. I mean, we are the new kids on the block and haven't even met half of the people on our street. This scene was playing out in my head:

  • Kid, "[Screaming!] Mom, bees!!"
  • Mom, "[Screaming!] Kids, hurry! Get inside before they sting you."
  • And me, "Hi, nice to meet you. I am the crazy beekeeper who just moved in next door. Sorry, the bees seem to follow me wherever I go."

So I pulled out of the driveway and drove around the block. Only to come back to more bees. I called my bee mentor again - seriously, he was probably ready to stop answering my calls. He laughed and said, "The good news is, it will keep the kids away. Just go inside and by the time the temperature drops tonight, they will leave."

Easier said than done. I spent 2 hours inside the truck and drove around the block every single time I saw someone walking down the street. I called Mr. B sobbing at one point. He laughed at first and suddenly stopped when I yelled, "This is not funny, this is SO stressful!" Fortunately, he's smarter than me and suggested that I go to the carwash. Brilliant I said, and hung up. 

A clean car, no dead bees, no scent of honey - the bees had to be gone, right?

Wrong again. 

This time I put on my bee suit, took a deep breath and jumped out of the truck. I wasn't necessarily worried they would sting me. Honey bees are not usually aggressive. It's just unnatural to see that many bees at one time and not in a hive. 

I made it to the front door, safe and sound. Then watched out the window as the neighborhood kids rode their skateboards up and down the street. It didn't take long for them to notice the hundreds of bees flying around the truck. They stopped out of curiosity to look and then continued boarding... several feet away, of course. Thankfully no screaming was involved.

You aren't a beekeeper until you have a meltdown, right? Well I hope, otherwise, I am screwed. 

What I learned: Meet my neighbors this weekend and gift them jars of honey. "Hi, I am the crazy bee lady, but I do have honey."

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