Saturday will bring about the culmination of years of childhood fears and many a nightmare.
I will face them with all of the strength of a 37 year old man with the steeled resolve of a viking lord of old. They will not overtake me as I will wear the armor of those that have gone before me. I will don my head shield and my leather arm protectors to give me added protection against the sharp arrows that may seem like miniature bullets coming directly at me to harm and attack me. Yet I will stand strong and drive this malicious hungry horde back to where they belong. I will subdue them with my strength and the smoke of the battlefield and make them stay in their residence far from my family. Furthermore, I will adjure them to do my bidding and only lend to them the necessary tools, so they in turn will make me what I want them to make. Yes, I will conquer them, though they be 4000 strong, their legion will bow to the place I have for them, and they will stay there and I will conquer this nightmare once and for all. I do it not only for myself, but my family as well.
Yes, I am becoming a beekeeper.
The fear is real, mind you, maybe not as dramatic as I have laid out, but there nonetheless. I am allergic to bumblebees. Last year in our garden we had tons of honeybees and I overcame my fear somewhat. I would lean over to them and actually pet them while they were gathering nectar and pollinating my plants. I also have a weakness that I must share. I am kinda like Winnie the Pooh with honey. I love the stuff. I am tired of paying for it like it's liquid gold. So, I figured that we should make some of our own. I began to explore the inns and outs of beekeeping online. If this is an interest of yours, please do some research online first. There are literally hundreds of YouTube videos on beekeeping that are wonderful. I watched them for over two hours one day, just trying to soak in the knowledge that all these beekeepers have. It was through this that I gained the confidence to strike out on my own and get a hive started. I went to numerous sites that offer beekeeping supplies and opted for the beginners kit. I am not at all ashamed to admit that I do not know what I'm doing, so I will defer to the experts. In this case they said the beginners kit would be a good start for what we were wanting to do. So I placed the order and a week later I received a 50 lb. box at my front door.
I rip through the tape like a man possessed, and there it is, my suit of armor: the beekeepers helmet, the leather gloves that, seriously, come past my elbows. There were pieces of wood with a sheet of instructions, and a smoker to calm the bees down.
I had opted for the unassembled hive as recommended by a number of beekeepers on YouTube so that after assembling one, I would be able to fix any problems that I might have in the future by knowing how one was put together in the first place. It seemed like the old ounce of prevention/worth a pound of cure approach, so that's the one I chose. A few days later Hudson and I made our way upstairs with the kit and we began to assemble it. Two and a half hours later I had a fully functional beehive ready for use.
I actually sat it on our kitchen table for a day or so for all to see, then my loving wife kindly asked me to remove it. I moved it to the garage where over the next few days each of the children, except the toddler, helped put on a coat of white paint.
The day we all had waited for had finally arrived.
I picked up the brood of bees, who had just made their trek across the west from California by way of a wooden box.
I must admit, it was a little intimidating driving with 4,000 bees in back of my SUV.
There was the whole running joke with my wife, that for the sake of myself and others, I had better not get rear ended or have a wreck. I arrived home with the brood of bees, and after rounding up the necessaries, my wife made some sugar water in a mason jar and the family and I loaded up to take the bees to their new home.
I quickly set up shop, which in hindsight could have been done ahead of time. After you get your bees it is important to put them in the hive as soon as possible. Cloaked in my new super hero beekeeper gear, I asked my family to remain in the truck. The wind was blowing so my chances of lighting and using the smoker went out the window. Thankfully the man I bought the bees from had mentioned that it was cool enough that I shouldn't have to use the smoker. I decided to listen to his advice. My wife began to pray. At that point I began to wonder if I shouldn't feel a little nervous.
Recalling the countless youtube videos and instructions I had read, I took the box of bees and began to carefully empty them into the hive. Out of 4,000, I was surprised at how few were flying around. Most seemed happy to submit. In hindsight, there were probably a hundred or so swarming. I worked calmly and then began to move carefully away from the hive. I had only gotten 5 stings, which wasn't too bad considering. I am confident that should I have had the net a little tighter, they wouldn't have found their way down the back of my shirt and gotten caught. Lesson learned. Next time I will take my wife's advice. ;)
Stay tuned for Part Two. You can click on subscribe at the top right hand corner of our home page to get a weekly email of the posts we put out and not miss a single thing!