Friday, May 15, 2015

The Bees Arrive

I get an email from Honey Hive Farms where I bought my package bees. It says that the bees will be arriving a few weeks earlier than suggested. They will arrive at Lowe's in Independence Missouri on Thursday 4/14/2015. My ignorance is clarified by the understanding I now receive. Here's the email:

First of all PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR EMAIL ME BACK.  I will be in the bee yard or driving, etc.
If you can not make it as your busy on vacations, etc ,,,, please send someone to pick the bees up for you.

We will be at the Lowes 4201 Sterling Ave, Kansas City Mo 64133, West side of parking lot most likely ...

Driving a pickup truck with a large black and white trailer.

Day and date will be Thurs. May 14th,  7 am to 8 am (this is an estimated time but please be there a t7 am, we should be on time)   We will leave at 8 am
Again do not call me if I am 10 min late, please. I am doing my best.

I will not be calling anyone unless I have a break down or am running over an hour late.

Thank you for understanding and your help to pick up the bees in a timely manner.

NOTE> The queens have corks in the cages, you will have to release them or do what I do, take the cork out and install a small marshmallow.
NOTE> PLEASE do not transport bees in the back of a pick up truck as they will get hot and knocked down and get to hot, etc. Put inside the car, if your comfortable the are comfortable.
I will knock off all the lose bees, don't worry.

Tim & Connie Moore

Now that was a sweet message. It was direct and to the point. I liked that. However, I now understood that Lowe's was not receiving the bees and distributing to me at my whim (like after work). I was going to have to get up early and get to Lowe's and find a pickup truck with a trailer. I thought, well, at least there will be a sing on the trailer. I can find Lowe's. So I got on Google Maps, printed out the route, put the address in my cellphone, wrote myself some directions. 

I then went to the garage and started playing with the hive, trying to go through the motions of taking the hive apart and putting the bees in. I practiced but I did not know what I was doing. I made sure I had a marshmallow and a small nail to poke a hole through it. I mixed up my sugar water 1 to 1 and put it in the feeder jars. I put my hive up outside in a corner of my yard. Neither neighbor could really see it in the corner where I placed it. I put the entrance pointed toward the fence as I had been instructed, so I would bother them when I was mowing in the yard. 

I told work I would be in late, but didn't say why. I was ready. The weather reports were bad news for bee installation. It was severe thunderstorms all week. I would be picking up my bees in the rain. Installing them in the rain. How the hell was I going to do that? My first time, and it was going to be in the rain. Well the still small voice was still there. I trusted it. I slept well. 

In the morning it was raining, but it wasn't raining hard. I drove my Crown Vic Ford to Lowe's and despite all my worries, there was a nice pickup truck with a large trailer on the back. There was no sign on the truck or trailer, but I did see two women walking toward a car parked close to the trailer with a package of bees. I had come to the right place. 

I went up to the trailer in the light mist and watched the attendant give packages to two men. Then he asked my name. He was a genuine person, one anyone would like. He charmed me from the get go. He asked my name, I gave it, and he had an invoice that showed I was payed up. He went to the back of the trailer, and with a hand saw, cut apart one of the packages. They are all stapled together for structural integrity so they don't fall over while being carried in the trailer. 

There were fans running in the trailer to keep the bees well ventilated. I had ordered Carniolans. A type of bee from the Baltic's. I do not know why I ordered this breed. It was all just part of this small inner voice I was following. The Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica, Pollmann) is a subspecies of the western honey bee. The Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia, southern Austria, and parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

The charming gentleman handed me the package and I was feeling giddy. Such a different thing I was doing A whole new world for me. Some Lowe's shoppers walked up to me and asked what the guy in trailer was giving away. I showed him the honey bees. He looked in the trailer and couldn't believe it. The expression on his face was priceless. There were perhaps 250 thousand Honey Bees on the trailer. 

I put the bees in on the floor behind the driver's seat. As I drove home there were a few loose bees int the car. But they didn't bother me. They seemed like friends. That's how I felt. It was drizzling all the way home. Once in the garage I set the bees up on a small table and looked at the package. I could see a slit in the top of the cage with a thin metal strip. I knew that would hold the queen's cage. I moved it, and I could see how to slide it out. However, since the queen's cage is in with the rest of the bees, when you take the feeder can out to get the queen out, bees come out too. 

I carried my hive tool and feeder tray and bottled sugar water out to the hive. Got out a soft brush and laid it on the hive stand. I tucked my pants into my socks, and I duck taped my sleeves to my wrist. I had a viel I could have worn, but I did not want my neighbors to get suspicious, so I didn't put it on. Basically I was just in my regular clothes. I went back in and got the package of bees and carried them through my house out the back door. I got into the corner where I would be seen and went to work. 

I took a spay bottle full of sugar water and sprayed the bees down good, through the package screen. This would make them heavy and not inclined to fly away. The feeder can came out easily. Of course there were a lot of bees on it. I brushed them off and set the can down. Then I pulled the metal strip to the hole where the can had been and pulled up the queen's cage. It was covered with bees. I put a small plastic bread board over the hole. I din't want all the bees coming out just yet. By now I had bees flying all around me. They were on my face, on my neck, on my hands, on my shirt, on my pants, and even a couple in my ears. 

I brushed the bees off the queen's cage with my hands. I took out my little nail and pulled the cork out of the tunnel on one side of the cage. I put a small marshmallow into the hole and then poked a hole in it with a bent paperclip. I then suspended the queen's cage in the bottom hive box. Then I took the bread board off the hole in the package of bees and began shaking the hell out of the package, holding it upside down over the hive. They fell out in large clumps, spilling all over the top bars and into the space below. More shaking, more dumping, bees everywhere! More bees on me, crawling everywhere. Their feet were soft and fuzzy, sort of cuddly. I was not scared at all, but rather exhilarated. 

Most of the bees came out. They were covered with sugar water, so most of them couldn't fly. They didn't know where to go, but they were here. They were totally in the present moment, just as I. This was the Zen of it. This was nowness and total engagement. The bees and I are one. We are taking this journey together. Sentient beings, both of us. 

I set the package down on its side next to the hive entrance. Then I place a second hive box over the hive box I had placed the bees in. Next I put the feeder tray on the bars of the second box, and then the jars of sugar water upside down into the holes. I then place the third hive box over the jars, and then the quilt box and then the roof. 
I had noticed when I took the hive apart that even though it had rained overnight, the hive was dry as a bone inside. The rain had stopped while I put the bees in the hive. The weather was 70 degrees, perfect! 

I picked up my tools and headed to the back door. I had to put everything down and do my best to brush all the bees off. Then I went back through the house to the garage and put my tools up. Of course there were a number of bees in the house and I spent some time catching them and showing them the door. I let out a sigh of relief as no neighbors had seen me and I did not have to explain myself. I felt very satisfied and got into my work clothes and drove to work. Pickup and installation in less than one hour. 

The queen was alive in her cage. The marshmallow was in place that the bees would chew through and let her out. The bees were in the hive, and all was well with the world. The little quiet voice was right so far. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had done something I really wanted to do, I felt like I had done something different. Something that was fascinating to me.  

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