Friday, May 4, 2012

3 Pounds of Bees, Please

If you haven't already guessed by the title, we have some new little residents living outside of our living room window.  Kristoffer had been talking for a while about getting bees, and since my father keeps bees (and has for as long as I can remember), it didn't really seem that strange to me.  I wholeheartedly encouraged and supported him to move forward with this plan!  I look at how much our lives have changed since we have become parents, and how much Kristoffer has sacrificed his hobbies and interests in order to spend time with us.  I really think it's vitally important to have something that we, as humans, can invest our time in for recreational recharge our batteries, so to speak.  Truth be told, my poor hubby doesn't get much of a chance to rock climb, or ski or play sports like he used to, so keeping bees is something that will be a new outlet for him.  

Like I said, I grew up having beehives on our property, and watching my dad don his netted hat and walk out with his smoker to check on his bees.  We always had a big bucket of honey in the basement that we would use to refill our large mason jar of honey from in the kitchen.  Really, the only times I remember being stung, were by hornets, or wasps...I don't think I can recall ever being stung by a honeybee!

So, after we used a large portion of our tax return for un-fun purposes, we set aside a little for Kristoffer's bees.

We picked them up the last Saturday in April, and took the kids with us.  Here is a large pallet with boxes and boxes of bees!  The metal cans you see are filled with some form of sugar water to feed the bees during transport.
 A few little escapees on the outside.
 Marin checking out the bees.  And we only purchased one box of bees.  If you notice, you can see the bees are huddled into their own little 'hanging mass'.  They are actually huddled around the queen bee box.  She is in a separate little mesh box up at the top of this box, and the bees instinctively huddle around her.  The ones laying on the bottom are goners.
 Proud new bee owner!
We set them in the trunk and propped them up to be sure they wouldn't tip over.
 Kristoffer stored the bees in the dark garage until evening, when he was ready to put them into their new home.  They recommend waiting until dusk so that the bees will be less likely to swarm (fly away and never return) since they are getting ready to bunker down for the night.
 We've set the bees on the side of the house, almost towards the front of the house.  It's a great spot, there are high fences and the house, so the bees need to fly up and over to get out (as opposed to straight..where people heads are), it's far enough away from our backyard so that kids can play and BBQ's can happen and no one is bothered.  The bees are able to get some morning sun and afternoon sun (to wake them up and keep them working), AND, they are right outside of our window, so we can watch them up close and safely!
 I had to be sure I put in a picture of Kristoffer wearing his bee-gear.
It took the weekend for the bees to settle down and become acclimated to their new home.  Sunday they were pretty busy right outside the hive, but I think they were giving themselves a little orientation.  Now, they have calmed down and I will typically see between 5-6 bees entering/exiting the hive at a time.  Their peak is in the mid-afternoon when that bright sun hits their hive full on, then I see between 12-18 bees entering/exiting the hive at a time.  

You just received a little bee education, haha!  Our close friends and family can expect some tasty honey as gifts this Christmas!

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