So I’ve been waiting for M. to get home to put together the accompanying video for this post, but he won’t be home long enough to do so for a while, so the pics will have to suffice. The video really is something…M. doesn’t often lose his composure, but try having several bees trapped in your bonnet with several hundred more trying to get in…well…you’ll get the picture. He’s quite the sprinter that one.
We get our brand new bees in a week or so. Apparently they arrive at the Post Office and the postal employees can’t call you to come get them fast enough. The incessant low-grade humming emanating from the box apparently evokes a deep-rooted primordial fear and its effect on the post office staff is quite acute. Included in the box of bees is a queen in her very own little queen bee travel suite. It’s supposed to be a simple procedure, introducing your bees to their new hive – you simply put the queen in the brood super (the bottom hive body), close up the hive, open the bee package next to the hive, and promptly run for your life (maybe that’s just me). The bees, following the queens pheromones, will then slowly trickle into the hive to find the queen bee and release her from her sugar-coated prison. I’m not kidding – the door to the queen’s travel suite is a waxy-candy plug that the bees literally chew through. God if only American Airlines made me eat through a layer of cake to deplane from my private first class cabin, life would be complete – where are the human applications of this idea, I ask you?!
This whole process sounded simple enough to me at first….I mean…its M.’s thing really. The chichens are my thing and the bees are his…it was all a very cozy division of labor…until this weekend when M. informed me that he would likely be out-of-town for the “transition”. Now, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I like to think of myself as a real “trooper”. Someone who is game for almost anything and doesn’t fear many tangible things. Rats – I had two of them as pets in college. Snakes – I’m that person who stops in the middle of the road to pick them up so they don’t get run over. Roaches and spiders – no problem. I do have twinges of respectful fear for horses and cows make me a bit nervous, but I’m usually undeterred. Even bees, when there are one or two of them don’t freak me out too much…I admit that I will calmly walk away if one is buzzing near me, but no hand flapping hysterics. However, 10,000 angry bees dive-bombing your bonnet and looking for a way in is another story…
And that story began about 2 weeks ago when our friend and neighbor decided that he wanted to rehome his hive. Not surprisingly, M. was ON IT. He’s been waiting a year for our new bees, so the idea of two hives left him positively giddy. This would be the perfect introduction to our new bees…we could get our feet wet by moving an already established hive to the property in Bastrop. How hard could that be right? Moving a many thousands strong 50lb hive 25 miles on the highway in the back of Michel’s Tacoma…noooo problem. Dude had it all figured out and to his credit all went according-ish to plan. We attacked the hive at night in tandem (bees, like chickens, put themselves to sleep each night). It took us about 20 minutes to suit up, but those suckers can and will find any hole in your defenses so it pays to be meticulous (imagine an angry bee buzzing around centimeters from your face in an enclosed environment where any move you make to facilitate its escape will result in a bee stung nose, cheek or eyeball…screw water boarding…put a bonnet on it and you’ll see some serious intel).
Next, we sealed the hive, secured it with ratchet straps, and carried it to the back of the pick-up, where M. expertly strapped it to the car in the hopes that it wouldn’t fly out the back of the pick-up at 70 miles per hour and break open on the unsuspecting dickhead that was following too close behind us for most of the trip. Twenty-five miles and many bumps later we unloaded and unsealed our very agitated hive in Bastrop. Michel got stung 6 times throughout the whole process, but I escaped sting free, due in large part to the fact that I spent a good portion of the time in my full bee keepers suit inside the car during the re-release process. Note to the uninformed – bees can detect the pheromones of their fallen brethren and will follow the residual scent from the disemboweled stinger on your clothes for over 50 feet. While doing so, they will dive bomb your bonnet in an attempt to sting your airway in the hopes that it will shrink and you will die a painful and breathless death for being a greedy sugar seeking mammal.
Keeping that in mind, let’s get back to the image of me sitting inside the car in my full beekeepers suit…. which sounds really dumb until you note that, in haste to escape the bees following him around, M. has inadvertently brought a couple of angry bees into the truck with him. Keep in mind there are many more waiting for us outside. Which would be cause for panic…UNLESS….you have your suit on inside the car. Then you can sit back and watch your partner cringe and swat until the threat has been eliminated. My only regret was not having a beer and popcorn to watch the show. M. is such a sport.
Now…lets get even further back to the point in this story where I mention that M. will be out-of-town when our “new” bees get here, which means I will be making the transition to the hive all by myself. His presentation of this fact was so offhand, so casual, and so in midst of conversation that I almost missed it. But I did not miss it…and if you haven’t seen my alarmed, eyeballs larger than usual, mouth gaping in “you’ve got to be kidding” face, please know that it was in full effect and whatever gravitas was missing in his communication with me was imparted by my reactionary bitchface. I have since settled down a bit and being the “sport” that I am, will attempt to play Moses to the 10,000 bees when they get here in late May. Naturally, I will be recording the event with our go-pro so that 1) I have constant reminder of why Michel will be cleaning the chicken coop for the next six months and 2) I can have fodder for my blog, which will hopefully not include a post from St. David’s South. Stayed tuned for our mini-doc “The 10,000 Faces of Fear” (working title), the action packed sequel to “The Time Michelle Almost Lost an Eye to a Pine Tree in Wisconsin”. Below…pictures of our Bastrop hive, pre-relocation.