Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I'm always fashionably unprepared, and today was no different. The bees arrived and I realized we had no veils, no hive tools, no smoker, no bee brush or spray bottle for syrup water. I abhor buying specialty appliances and tools for things. I'll ghetto rig it whenever possible. But, once faced with the little buggers, I started to freak out a bit.
"Welcome to the world of farming." They said. "Nature cannot be counted on to make a deadline."
Beethinking in Portland and is made from sustainably harvested cedar. The cedar deters ants. Warre hives, also called the People's Hive, are uncommon in the US. News of their successes has not made it mainstream yet. We don't know anyone else with a Warre. My mentor suggested I become the official Warre expert of the DC area. I never shy from the exotic and smart, that's just my style. Most people build them from scratch as plans are available for free and in the book Beekeeping for All by Abbe Emile Warre. We lack wood working equipment, so I decided to buy the hive precut, at least this first one.
My mentor loaned me his veils and one jacket. That southed my nerves a bit. I have some mosquito netting and was planning on making a veil, but borrowing a professional one is even better. We made a bee brush out of long grass and used a screw driver in place of a hive tool. I stopped at Petco and picked up oat hay to fill the quilt box above the hive. This box keeps the bees warmer during the winter and also sucks moisture out of the hive (a distinguishing feature of the Warre).
It was trippy to pour bees out of their box into the hive. Overall easier than I anticipated. But certainly a trip. There were many bees remaining stubbornly in the box. Our solution: I held the box over the hive while my friend smacked the top of it to dislodge the puppies from the walls. Shake shake shake, and they fell in the hive with their sisters. I had wanted to film it but we didn't have enough hands.
I checked on them before dusk and most of the bees had left the box and entered into their hive. I'm crossing my fingers that it works out and they like their new home. Sometimes bees will swarm to scope out more hospitable conditions elsewhere if they do not take to the hive or queen.
The kids have been strong supporters of our new pets. They watched the populating of the hive from our screened in porch. We've been acting out the bee lifecycle at home: building comb, propolizing the walls of the hive, pollinating flowers, bringing pollen back to the hive on our thighs and making honey. Everyone is excited, even our crazy neighbor!
What a rush. One step closer to self sufficiency. Urban homesteading alive and well. My coworker and cube mate thinks that we deserve a show on TLC. Thad be cooool...