Shirley and I picked up our two boxes of bees today. The process is pretty straightforward; it says so right in the beekeeping book! You open the hive, dump out the bees, close up the hive, return to the house, and enjoy a cold beer. So where do I begin this story? Should I start at the beginning, when our friend Joe Mueller assured us that beekeeping was a fun hobby that made few demands on those wanting to tend a hive, or should I start at the end where I am writing this while nursing six painful bee stings?
This is really a story about a heroine. Shirley was solid gold today. Her role was to watch me, perhaps take a few pictures, hand me frames, and generally just support me, the master beekeeper. This plan didn’t last long. Within 30 seconds of opening the box of bees, a couple of bees got tangled in my hair and stung me. I tried to remain calm thinking this would have a similar calming effect on the bees, but then three more bees insisted on having their way with me. Enough! I moved away from the hives as quickly as possible but still ended up getting stung on the mouth and encouraged a bunch of them to pursue me in their maniacal desire to sting me to death. My cowardly departure left Shirley literally holding the bag . . . or in this case, the box. What a trooper. Even after being stung herself, she remained focused and completed the transfer of 12,000 bees from the box into the hive. I don’t know anyone who could have handled this with the poise and confidence that Shirley exhibited.
Click here if you would like to see more photos of the process of installing a package of bees.