Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Sad Situation with Our Bees

Now that it's over, I suspect that I am feeling much like someone who has lost a pregnancy.
For the bees, at least the lucky ones, it may have been the rapture, but I am filled with a sense of loss and emptiness.

Over the decades we've lived here on the hill we have been hosts to several unwanted bee hives, always on a warm, east-facing site.  One was in the crawl space under our bedroom,  two were in the walls of the guest house.  Those unlucky hives had to be destroyed.  Some were swarms that moved out on their own in in due time, but this particular group decided to take up residency in some wooden boards leaned up against an inside shed wall of the barn.  For a long time we judiciously let them be (NPI), they weren't hurting anyone, it was wonderful to have them pollinating our plants, and we both grew to like the idea of keeping them around.

We read articles on bees and bee keeping, watched videos and movies, read blogs and became very excited about the idea of becoming backyard beekeepers.  Visions of honey comb and happy hives buzzed in our heads.

But the more we read and learned, the more complicated, difficult, physically demanding and potentially expensive the enterprise seemed to become.  Even though we found one beekeeper who said he could remove the bees from the barn wall and put them in a hive for us to keep, we finally elected to have them moved to another property when we learned that we would soon be hosting kids and seven small grand children.

So, Michael donned his fire fighter turnouts (below) and spent some time clearing out a path for Shawn, the bee man.
Yesterday morning, when the fog had lifted, Shawn arrived with all of his gear.   I sat in the sun and waited at what I hoped was a respectful distance while he donned his gear, hauled equipment, lugged more junk out of his way, and finally brought in his bee vac with attached hive carrying case (on the red can in the foreground).
It was very cool - but stressful.The bees had been very calm around us, but they could feel quite differently about someone raiding their honey come, destroying their hive, and sucking them up with a vacuum.  If they were Africanized, they could be REALLY upset.  But they weren't.  And he said it was a very healthy hive, with lots of honey.

The bees were (relatively) calm and  Shawn was calm, deliberate and patient, and eventually had a good portion of the bees in his box, and three nice chunks of golden honey comb in Tupperware for us to keep.

As delighted as I was with the honeycomb, and even though I was relieved to see that potential tot danger alleviated,  it was very sad to see them go.  After two hours of painstaking work, Shawn held up his little box and said, "Well?  Here's your bees, say goodbye."

 I miss them.  I just know they would have been wonderful bees.

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