3.18.2013

Remarkable bees!!!

When I was a kid, my dad was a bee keeper and so was my Grandpa Snyder.  I still remember the corner of the yard where their hives were. I remember getting stung now and again, but I'm sure it was worth it. There was always dark, delicious amber honey to be had. That desert honey is still delicious to me.

Thanks to his influence and a greater understanding of nature and the world of food, I've wanted to keep bees for years. I still remember sitting at my friend Eve's table with another mom who keeps bees. Our conversation peaked my interest and at that time, I put it on my list of things I wanted to do, for a number of reasons. The more I've learned, the stronger my desire has become, but it just wasn't time.

When we moved here my desire was rekindled by having a small garden of my own AND the high price of good quality raw local honey. I longed to notice honeybees pollinating my vegetables.  We avoid sugar, so honey is one of our sweeteners of choice because of it's many virtues. We buy it by the gallon, and that can get expensive! Naturally, I decided to figure out a way to produce our own honey.

 Last summer, I started looking for resources in our area and realized that there were some wonderful classes offered by bee keepers. I read this article about Jaquline. I was really drawn to her philosophies about bees. I took a class from her and was so impressed by her great reverence for bees, in a spiritual way even. I've been privileged to rub shoulders and learn from her.


In her class, I learned how doable natural bee-keeping is. I also learned that I could even catch my own bees?!?! There is a ton of wonderful information on the internet. I read another great blog post and watched a great video that solidified my desire to catch 
my own swarm of bees!!!
 
I would have to wait for the spring, but that gave me time to learn. Last month I decided to put my name online offering FREE removal of bee swarms. I was doubtful I would get a call, but within two weeks, someone had called and needed a hive removed. I was gone and missed the call, but it was just the motivation we needed to get our hives built!


Thank goodness we did because this past Thursday, just 3 weeks later, I got a call from a man a couple towns away that had some bees he wanted me to rescue! I was thrilled and said I would come get them! He wanted them taken care of that same day.  I asked him where they were, and I cringed!  I felt confident in catching a docile swarm, not an established hive of bees!!!!They were an established hive of likely to be UPSET bees that lived in the wall of an old, old small town church they were renovating and tearing the wall boards off of.  I remained composed and asked him when he wanted them picked up. They wanted them gone that day! I made an appointment for that evening and got the information. I hung up the phone, then I put my brain in order. I was in NO WAY prepared to cut out  a hive of bees from between wall boards!!!

I immediately called Jaqueline, told her of the mess I had gotten myself into and asked for advice. We both agreed I needed to call for reinforcements! She had a bee list. A list of people that have gathered bees before. I can't believe it still, but one gentleman, Berry said he would help me, and for no charge! He had been helped in the past and was passing along the favor! Plus, he had done it before and had 2 bee suits! I still can't believe how wonderful it was how things fell into place.

We decided to meet and assess the situation to see how long it would take. Apparently he's had jobs that lasted well into the night, and he wanted to start the next day if that was the case. When the kids and I arrived, he said we could get them right then! I was thrilled. We had just picked up a huge basket of books at the library so the 3 younger kids stayed in the car and had entertainment and Justin came to help out a bit. We got right to work.

 The man doing the construction took down a couple boards and this is what we saw.

I just could hardly believe it. 
What a beautiful, remarkably healthy hive it was! 
We could do it that night! No only was it an easy hive of bees to cut out, but they had built their hive exactly where there was a landing we could stand on!!! Truly amazing.





 Berry was experienced and knew what was going on! He did most of the cutting out of the comb after calming them by squirting them with water. I was still a bit timid but tried to help where I could, placing the comb into the box I had brought.

 The comb was mainly attached to the top 2*4 and it was easy to remove, even if the bees were NOT thrilled about us tearing apart their home! They were surprisingly calm considering the situation though!
 This is what it looked like when we had removed it all.
 We got all of the comb and were feeling successful at gathering the bees. We assumed the queen was buried below the mounds of bees, so we transferred the bees into my hive. By that time, I was confident in handling the bees and was totally enjoying my experience.

 As we were packing up to leave, I noticed several groups of bees huddled around on the lights and fixtures. I wanted to loose as few as possible, so we got containers Berry had brought and started gathering clumps of bees to take home also. I was just about to wrap things up, when I had the thought that I should go up and see if there were any bees that stuck around their old dwelling. There was a mound of them , so I gathered them. Then just as I was climbing down, I noticed a board with a small clump of bees on it. I grabbed that too. When I got into the light, I studied it and the bees. Then I noticed a larger bee beneath the others. It was the queen! We had thought she was with the comb and hadn't even wondered if she wasn't in with the others!!

It was a miracle that I even thought to go take one last look. I'm just glad that I did!!! God is involved in my life...and he cares about bees too I sure. I'm just thankful I followed that prompting!

 In 1.5 hours and only 1 bee sting from a bee that got trapped in my waistband, and a few stings on Berry's leg where the went up his pants, we headed home with the hive in our trailer.  Now I just need to buy my own bee suits so I will be ready if I get another call!

Just so I remember...some things we had with us:

suits including gloves
saw
pry-bar
box cutter
several boxes
spray bottle

If I ever have the chance again, I am going to bring a few more supplies with me.
A flashlight
Rubberbands for my pantlegs and to attach comb to the bars.
Shoes OTHER THAN FLIP-FLOPS...I forgot real shoes????
Duct Tape (of course!)
Smoker


We are so excited to care for the bees, and perhaps, one day, try some of their honey! 
I guess we are bee keepers now....or bee guardians as the video says! We are really enjoying watching them as they busy themselves with re-building their hive! Bees are such amazing creatures!

 And to think Patrick had to work and miss all of the fun! He'll still get to have honey though. :)

6 comments:

Minna and Matt Pedersen said...

This is remarkable!!! I am jealous of your new bee colony!!! Enjoy all your new honey!!!

Judy said...

What a fun experience & wonderful adventure for your family!! One of my kids very favorite things we did in New Zealand was to go & visit a big "bee farm"! It was so neat to learn about & see all of the bee's busy at work! They had some of them behind thick glass so you could see & they had fun trying to pick out the queen (they would mark her back)! Have fun!!!

MOM said...

Wow, I believe in miracles and know you do too, because Heavenly Father has allowed so many mighty miracles to happen in your life.
How exciting to be following in Pop and your father's footsteps!!!
I hope by the time I visit in August you'll have honey. Thanks again for sharing with me and your friends....
I love your blogs and I love My Sweet Julie....
Remember to "bee" happy!!!!!
Love, MOM

Eve | Inchworm Chronicles said...

I remember that conversation at the table! How neat to be a little part of your decision.

About catching that swarm, that is such a crazy story. Good luck with the new adventure! (Mmmm, honey!)

Michelle said...

What a fun adventure! Enjoy your bees. :)

Andrea Gehmlich said...

julie, you are CRAZY! you just keep going! good for you. you need to write a book about your life!