May is shaping up to be a very busy month for me and I can’t be happier. I picked up my first hive of bees on Sunday, May 6th and delivered them to their new home in a beautiful garden in Milwaukie, OR. This is my first year keeping bees and I’ll admit to some trepidation and healthy dose of fear about it. Mostly the fear of being stung, which Rebekah from Bee & Bloom said was just something that would happen.
I made the decision early on when I started this business that I would have bees, but I’d gone back and forth about whether I wanted to tend them myself or hire out the management of the hives to Bee & Bloom. In the end I felt it was important for me to learn the basics of beekeeping and have experience with bees, so that I could speak with confidence about the product that I work so intimately with. So in April I ordered my bees from Old Blue Natural Resources and picked them up them on May 6th. I won’t lie, that flimpsy looking wooden box did not fill me with confidence that it would hold the bees to their home while being jostled around in a moving car as I’m headed down the highway to the garden.
Good thing I didn’t see the video of the man who had that happen to him while he was transporting his bees. I think I would have had second, third and fourth thoughts about the whole thing. Lucky for me Rebekah was riding with me so she held the bees and apparently they are pretty docile while in this transition state. They had a new queen and food and that was more than enough to keep them busy. On the drive over I learned a few things, these new hives have new queens and they keep her separated from the bees in this little container otherwise the other bees would kill her since they are from different places. You have to give them time to get used to each other, pheromones time to work their magic.
I suited up for the first time in a bee suit and we went through the process of taking out the queen and putting her in the hive first. Then shaking the rest of the bees into the hive and making sure they have enough food to get them going until they head out and do their own foraging. I freely admit that I was really nervous and to be so close to loud buzzing but I stayed calm because on some level I knew I was protected. The bees were pretty preoccupied with dealing with their new living situation to really feel like the two white clothed blobs were a threat.
We got back to the car and checked each other out to make sure that no stragglers followed us before we changed out of the suits. All in all it took about 20 minutes but I thought it was going to take much longer, so I hadn’t planned for the rest of my morning before I went to work. I spent about an hour reading on bees and ordering more books from the library and Amazon. I’m set to head back out to the garden in a couple weeks to do a first check up on the hive.