Awww hells YAAWW!!
— Guest post by The Queen Bee
Here’s what today felt like. Imagine you’ve been off for a couple of days and getting ready to leave for a big trip. You leave tomorrow and have all day to pack. You have a leisurely breakfast, mentally review all the things you have to do, make a pack list and organize your documents. It’s going to be *so* great.
Out of the corner of your eye, you see the date on your ticket.
It’s TODAY… and … your flight leaves in 3 hours.
The leisurely pace has been replaced with a mad scramble. Luggage gets yanked violently out of the closet, everything stored in it dumped on the floor. Throw in shorts, pants, bikini, shoes. Not sure if you have both flip flops. An arm sweep of the bathroom counter covers off the toiletries. You bang your rolly bag down the steps and your sarong drags on the floor behind your only half zipped suitcase.
So was my day with the bees. We just did our first inspection for our new bees a couple of weeks ago and they seemed to be buzzing along well. All I needed to do today was prime and paint the honey supers (hive boxes for honey) and as a stretch goal, paint the hive names on. We didn’t expect to prepare for honey for another couple of weeks. We had _tons_ of time.
I took to the hives after lunch in the warm afternoon sun. I got the six supers done while intermittently tossing the ball for my visiting German Sheppard. I had a couple hours before the bees would come back home for the evening, so I broke out my stencils to name our hives. The first one was off center and awkwardly painted, but I got the job done.
Then everything went off the rails.
I open the lid of The Bee-st hive and it looks like a Woodstock concert – there are bees EVERYWHERE. They are crowd surfing over each other. There are gooey honey channels across the tops of all of the frames. Bees are riding in it like the lazy river. All of the frames are stocked to the brim with capped honey. (You would expect activity on the majority of the frames, but never filled to this capacity). Even the lid itself is very heavy from the weight of the excess honey stuck to the top and the bee mosh pits.
I need to clean off the excess before I can put on the Queen excluder and the honey super. I try to avoid collateral damage, but a couple of bees are swept up in the honey tsunami. Honey is dripping everywhere – all over my hive tool, in between the frames, onto the bees – it is literally a hot, sticky mess.
I don’t have a container big enough to hold all of the excess comb, so I start throwing it into the woods. Doing so, Gaston will tell me later in the evening, will be a sure-fire way to attract the bears to our honey and endanger the bees. Spoiler alert: 8 pm found me with a headlamp, using the German Sheppard as the scent tracker for all the honey pieces I threw in the woods that I had to reclaim.
Anyway – back to the hive – I finish pseudo cleaning the honey and turn my back for a second to grab the honey super, and by the time I turn back, the bees have multiplied faster than getting a Gremlin wet. I don’t even know where they’ve all came from. There’s a thin layer of bees and I can’t even see the frames. They are all flying around me like a bee-nado. Gaston later informs me that they have their bee panties in a knot because they are protecting the honey flow.
Mild panic starts to set in. I have 3 regular hives + one double hive to process and I only have an hour and a half until the rest of the bees come back from foraging for the day. If they are all this congested I’m going to be in real trouble.
The bad news is that they were all pretty much in the same shape. By the end of it, I am a stung, quivering and covered in honey. I’ve been using my phone to try and take pictures and it’s stuck by itself to my hand. There is honey comb shrapnel all over the grass. The German Sheppard is following me everywhere trying to lick the honey off my suit. I’m pretty sure I have lung cancer from the smoker. I’ve had my full gear on the whole time, yet for some reason I have honey in my hair and it’s caked to the side of my head.
The good news is…
WE’RE GONNA MAKE LOTSA HONEY!!! We’ll have enough to give to friends and family and probably enough left over to give to people we don’t even like.