{ Three More Bee Hives }

alOha : )

   We wanted to give a little update on the Hives : )

   We just added three new colonies to our growing apiary (we're at 6 now !! the goal was 7 .. but there will bee more with the swarm catching we want to do this season : ) Here's a little entry on the trip we just took to pickup the newest hives (along with a little stopover at the hot springs of course : )

   I know we've said this before, but we've become home bodies .. rooted like high-country pines on this mountain top, so when we have to go out to run errands, we tend to wilt.

   The trip down south wouldn't just be to pick up the hives (most exciting) .. but we'd also find ourselves at the giant Asian market (coconuts and yucca and mushrooms) Whole Foods (picking up things you can't find on the mountain) we'd also meet with a beeswax supplier (no luck), stopped at many other stores, and followed up on a craigsList appointment, ending up at a guy's house where we'd buy a plastic shipping pallet. (we were sending off a big order to Australia, by sea, and they don't allow wooden pallets from the US anymore .. ha ha ha .. that pallet .. )

   And by the time 6pm rolled around, and we were supposed to be getting ready to meet up with the swarm catchers to learn their practices and tour their operation, I suggested that we pop into my parents empty house (they're in Alaska) and go to sleep for a while : )

   We slept like the dead, but then had to wake up, at 8pm, to go pickup our hives and then drive them about a hundred miles to the Fair Share Honey land. The reason we're always doing this at night is because the bees come home at night, so in an effort to make sure that nobody's left behind while they're out working the flowers, we wait till well after nightfall to sweep the hives away from the valley and up to the high desert.

   The night before, we stopped over at the hot springs, covering the long bumpy dirt road at night and trying, to no avail, to catch a small dog who'd somehow found himself lost in the dessert (but he was too fast and too scared and too small to find amongst the cactus and the now-black night.)

   "Oh ... poor little buddy," juwels said, standing well off the road and only stopping at a barbed wire fence. "I hope a coyote doesn't get him .. "

   "Yeah, he's pretty fast," I said, "And hopefully he'll just hunker down for the night."

   "I hope he can find water."

   "I'm thinking he'll reach a point where his thirst and his hunger will surpass his fear, and he'll have to come out to the road and let somebody help him .. " I said, knowing there was nothing more we could do.

   We hiked out to the springs with our bedrolls and snacks, leaving the campground miles behind, and slept on a sandy bank of the river at around 2am after hours of soul melting soaking. The next morning, we'd leave the chill of our sleeping bags very early, and stumble back into the pools before breakfast. It was a good time, but no doubt added to our slumber ...

   We arrived to the swarm guy's place to bad news ... it seems that a neighbor had been complaining about their hives ("she said the bees have been chasing her baby around" .. not even sure what that means) and it looked like they might have to move the whole operation.

   Scott said that it was good that we'd canceled with them that day, for the tour etc, because they were wrapped up in the drama. His partner, Erik, was standing beside the three closed up hives on the tailgate of his truck, and telling us about the hives different personalities, and I noticed a big glistening bulge on his lower lip. I thought he was chewing tobacco, but later learned that he'd been stung on the mouth while they were getting the hives together (I guess he was holding a flashlight in his mouth, through the veil, and a bee was able to land right on his exposed lip.)

   I felt sorry for the guys ... knowing the bad energy that comes along with feuding with people in your live or work space. I also knew that the bees are very sensitive to energy, like little buzzing antennas .. with wings and stingers, and I mentioned to juwels that these girls were going to need a little extra care.

   We chatted a bit, and at one point, the guys shooed the wives away from the area (we were all talking about candles) because there was a breach in the lid of a hive, and bees were spilling out into the night. I got stung a few minutes later. My own fault. I didn't realize that a bee had landed on my tee shirt, and when I went and leaned against the truck, arm draped across my chest, I must have pinched her, and I felt a quick prick and burning sensation.

   I was in the middle of saying something but walked off to the light of the cab, and tried to quickly scrape the stinger out (they keep pumping venom the longer you leave them in.) My finger nails are almost always dirty and overgrown, and I complain about it ... but I'd just cut them the day before, so I couldn't get a good nail to lever it up and out. Rather, I scraped over the top of it, twice, probably squeezing the sack like a turkey baster and tapping a vein.

   Nice : )


   We left the bee yard, six hundred dollars lighter but with three packed hives. They had told us to be ready for a little bit of a shock when we looked inside because these hives were much more full than the last three we'd gotten, and luckily, unlike the last time, we had full be suits for the unmasking of the hives later that night.

   I drove, and juwels treated my forearm with some kind of oatmeal paste to stop the sting. I was happy with it and thought it was working well ... but it just turned out that my arm would take a while longer to swell, really swell. (this doesn't happen to juwels, just me .. )

   We pulled off onto the dirt road at around 11pm, and I drove as slowly as I could without causing the tires to spin on the hills. The first day of the trip (yesterday) we'd stopped off at the hives to look in on two that we'd left untouched for the last couple of weeks. And on that quick pop in, we learned that the hives were a complete mess ... It seemed that the fragile new honeycomb had fallen out of the frames (maybe on the dirt road) and the bees had continued to work everything, building more, in odd shapes and angles. The frames were all stuck together with overlapping comb, and the next morning, we were going to have to pull it all apart, carefully, and set it all up straight in the frames. And for this same reason, we wouldn't just leave the new hives to decompress with out opening them up to make sure everything was intacked.

   The next morning would be interesting (we'd be camping there that night) but first, before we went to bed, we had to get the three new hives unloaded from the truck and opened up. They were all humming with activity when we stopped, and we carried them out to the spot and leveled them out in the dark. Next, we packed our sleeping bags and mats out to a farther spot on the hillside, and I told juwels that the unvieling of the bees could be her thing. "I've been driving all day .. from the springs to the valley, all the stops in town and then here .. I can't keep my eyes open."

   "That's fine," she said as I was striping my bee suit off and climbing into my bag.

   "Have fun," I said.

   I blacked out, and then she was back. "How long were you gone?" I asked.

   "Only 10 or 20 minutes." (could have been three hours)

   "It's done?"

   "Yeah .. I've got three stings."

   "Oh..." I said, still not fully awake.

   "The zipper on my tall boots broke, so I had to wear my skate shoes ... and they were crawling up my pant legs."

   I fell back to sleep to the rest of her story. 


   I woke up after another blackout, felling an electric twitching in my leg, jerk-jerk-jerk. I looked over and saw juwels in her bag, dreaming the night away. My arm was really itching and burning, and for some reason, my other arm had an ache in the bone .. like in the marrow. I didn't know how much time had passed. I leaned up and partly out of my bag, fishing the sting cream out, and all at once I caught a chill in my whole body. Oh God, I thought, what's this ?? I put some cream on the sting, but didn't know what to do with the other arm and the aching bone, so I just smeared some cream on that too. Was I having a reaction? Had I gotten bit by something on the other arm at the guy's place? A spider? These thoughts all hit me in rapid fire,  jerk-jerk-jerk, and the shaking continued.

   It was still and quiet, and the moon was now out. I lied back down, pulling the lip of the sleeping bag snugly under my chin, but it was no use. My sleepiness had vibrated out through the chattering of my teeth, and it wasn't even that cold. I looked over at juwels, peacefully sleeping, and it was so eerily quiet that I almost felt like I was hiding from something. Don't make a sound ...

   "Juwels ???" I called in that, "Mo-m?? ?" kind of way.

   I had to say it twice before she woke up.

   "Yeah ..."

   "I'm shaking for some reason."

   "Oh yeah?"

   "Yeah, and my bone aches, too. Is that normal?"


   "Are you sure?" I asked. "Babe?"... she'd fallen back to sleep, or was talking in her sleep from the beginning, I didn't know which. 


   "I said I'm shaking all over, and my other arm is swollen now, too ... and the bone aches."

   "Oh .. I'm sorry."

   "Does your bone ache when you get stung?"


   "Really??" I asked hopefully.

   "Yeah. Totally. It's normal, happens all the time." She was fully awake now.

   I just lied there for a moment with this shivering going through my body.

   Am I getting sick? I wondered. 

   "I was starting to think that I might've gotten bit by a spider or something, at the guy's place..."

   "No .. you're other arm started itching in the car, right after you got stung. You're just letting your mind runaway with you. You got a sting, that's all."

   She was right, but it was too late for me. The shakes, the aches, the itching .. the visible swelling, and my stomach was now tying its self in a knot.

   The next morning I awoke feeling well. The itch was still around, but no aching. I rolled over in my bag, facing away from juwels, and watched an ant carrying some kind of seed pod over  a soft bed of pebbles which looked to be ocean tumbled. Juwels woke up shortly after, but we both stayed in our bags for a while, quietly talking about the night before.

   She told me that the bees in the new hives were a bit on the crazy side, and that they'd ALL come out of the hives when she opened them up and they just covered the outside of the boxes and buzzed. I guess this was understandable after being trapped inside for hours, the car ride, bumps, etc .. But it didn't set the morning up for an easy task. We'd have to get into those hives, but hopefully nothing had fallen over, and we could just close it all up, and leave them bee.

   And at that very second, a very noisy bee came flying over our heads and circled us. I screamed like a girl and instinctively tucked my head into the bag like a scared turtle. Juwels did the same, swap screaming like a girl w/ laughing, and we hid out and listened to the bee circle over us again and again.

   "What is it doing?" I asked juwels.

   "I don't know ... "


    This little bee was scanning us in someway ... was it one of the new bees? Would she tell the others where we were hiding out?

     REE  - REEEE -  REEEEEEEE !!!

    And then the sound went away.

   "Did it leave?" I asked.

   "I don't know ... I think it might have landed on one of us..."

   "Why would you think that?" I asked.

   "I don't know .."

   Juwels was just playing around, thinking it was some kind of game .. She actually likes being stung by bees, and later admitted that she was hopping it would happen a few times on that trip. But I didn't like all that itching and the discombobulation that comes with venom laced blood, and I was hiding out for dear life .. ha ha ha.

    We got up a few minutes later, and another bee landed on my back while I was rolling up my bag. We decided that we should probably put our suits on just in case the bees were scouting for the hooligans who'd kidnapped them the night before. We went back to the truck, dropped off the gear, ate nothing, and got right to work. The wind was supposed to kick up later, and we had a lot of hive reconstruction to do in the original boxes, and we didn't know what might be going on in the new ones. . .

   Our original hives were a mess, but we cut comb with a sharp knife, and used rubber bands to keep everything upright while the bees filled in the blanks and secured things. They were also super mellow. They didn't fly in our face shields much, and just kept up to their chores as we tore the house apart and put it back together. The other three hives, the new ones, were very active but minded their own business and stayed busy doing their bee dance.

   I had the smoker going strong with dried brush and sticks, and about an hour and a half later, we were done with the old hives and ready to look into the new ones. They were full-full of bees, and we were amazed to see that they were also packed with honey and uncapped nectar. We smoked the first two hives and looked in on them. Nothing had fallen over, luckily, but the comb was built every which way, beautiful white comb, large cells, dripping with honey, but a mess as far as being able to move frames went.

   I tried to move things some, get the frames spaced out better, but the comb broke and spilled honey, and the bees didn't appreciate this too much. I found a chunk that had fallen over in the ride, and squeezed my gloved-hand down inside to pluck it out (they'd build off it if I left it in there.). I left the succulent looking thing just outside their entrance, and they immediately jumped on the dripping comb and began moving the nectar back into the hive.

   The bees were wild in the air, not so much going after us, yet, but they were just clouded around and making a hellofa buzz. Juwels was still waiting for her long-sleeved gloves to show up in the mail, so she only had some short riding gloves for the mission. A bee got into her glove and stung, and then another. They must have sent off a pheromone, saying, "I've found the way in!!" because all of the sudden, her hands were swarmed with bees. I smoked them, which thinned the swarm a bit, but they were still hot on the scent.

   I suggested that we just close the second hive, and read up on what to do with this messy comb if it was all full of honey, and she agreed. We still had to look into the last hive though. We were in a hurry to finish and leave them alone, and I forgot to smoke that last hive ..

    Big mistake.

   The bees came out in a could, and tried their damnedest to spook us away. They were bumping off the wire mesh of our face veils in clusters, sounding like hail. Juwels guarded her wrists, and I had to keep shifting my focus from the hive at my feet to the veil just ahead of my nose. There was a little spot were bees could get in, right at the zipper-end, and I'd rubber banded it up pretty good, but I was on high alert not to let one of these hot mommas inside and give me a sting on the kisser.

   That hive looked good ... in that webbed, beautiful mess of a way, and we closed it up quickly. (by the way, the reason why the bees are so standoff-ish is because they're a wild colony with a new queen. This queen will repopulate the whole place with a more docile breed in a matter of 3 to 4 weeks, and she's been doing that, but in the meantime, there's still a couple "gumpy" bees standing guard from the old ranks. Plus - the drive and being locked up and moved to a new environment didn't help their nerves any .. 


   With the box back together, we collected our things and started off ... but the bees wouldn't go away. They circled around our heads, stung juwels wrists a few more times (she'd later count them with a schoolyard kind of pride) and we kept walking.

   And they kept following .. pretty much all the way back to the truck. Juwels said that we should just keep walking in the desert and avoid the truck. She thought they'd turn back after a milestone had been hit in their safety GPS, but this didn't seem to be the case.

   I loaded the smoker with more weeds, and smoked juwels as she walked. So they jumped off onto me, and I smoked me too. I hadn't been stung once, and besides a little adrenalin, and a longing for breakfast .. and lunch for that matter, I was in pretty good shape.

   The smoker that we use is an antique that a friend sent to us forever ago, and it doesn't have a guard wire running around that canister. Walking aimlessly through the desert, the bees, and the noise of them bumping off my face veil, had me really distracted, and I ended up brushing my shin right through a cactus.

   I handed the smoker over to my left hand, wanting to use the right to pull the needles... And now this should have been obvious, but that canister was hot-hot, and it burned the hell out of my receiving hand. I grabbed it back with the right hand, damn the needles, and the white leather of the burned glove turned brown and actually shrunk, feeling like it was melting onto my hand. Now I needed the hand with the smoker in it to pull that melting glove back off the other, and again, rushed and not thinking, I handed the smoker to juwels, "Ah ... here !! Hold this for a second..."

   She took the smoker, by the canister, and screamed, "Youch !!" as the canister began to melt the glove onto her hand too. "Why did you give this to me??"

   "It was burning my hand," I said, "Did you grab the canister??"

   "Yeah .. shit ... it's still burning !!"

   "It melted my glove," I complained.

   "I know," she said, "why didn't you warn me??"

   "Sorry," I said defensively, "I've got cactus sticking in my leg, these bees are all over the place, and I'm a little distracted. I can't think. Let's just get out of here."

   I finally convinced juwels that we should just go back to the truck and drive away, "They'll bail out once we get down the road."

   "They're all going to get stuck in the truck," she said. "Then we won't even be able to take these hot suits off."

   "No - I'll leave the windows down, and shoo them out. You can ride in the truck bed."

   And so it went, juwels in the back of the truck, fully suited, swarmed, and smoking herself, and me cranking a three point turn on the narrow dirt road, door hanging open, and shooing bees out. They all left except for one that got stuck in the cab until we'd pulled off for gas, and we both laughed at the exit scene that had just taken place, and hoped that none of the neighbors had witnessed our retreat...

   We laughed and itched, and pealed our suits off and drank cold apple juice from a glass brewers bottle. I was relived to be done with it, and looking forward to meeting them again once they'd cooled as much as our other hives, and juwels was looking like she wanted more.

   "That was fun !!!!"   

   The inadvertent bee venom therapy was interesting. My arm was swollen from the wrist to the elbow, and a light stroking or running my nails across the swollen skin felt oddly pleasurable. My neck, which normally aches from bad posture and awkward sleeping positions, just stopped hurting. (venom produces lubricating fluids in the body and helps the joints.) And we'd been bitten up pretty good by tiny "no see'um" bugs down by the river, and something about the bee venom made them all react so much more, becoming brightly colored and itchy all over again.

   We're headed back there today, less than a week later, just to drop an extra box on each of the three new hives. They were so packed with honey that we fear they'll run out of room and jump ship if we don't give them more space. But we won't poke around ... just a box, a prayer, and then we're headed off on the motorbike to a new swimming hole : )

    Maybe I'll post some pics of that below : ?

Thanks for reading, loVe & Honey,

p&j .. & the beeeeeees : )

No comments:

Post a Comment