Sunday, May 1, 2016

B is for Buzzzzzy Bees

They have arrived!!! 

The bee hive of 2016 has arrived in my little secret garden in West Philly.  Yesterday I picked up one package of bees (3-4lbs of worker bees (approx. 10,000) and one queen with attendants) out in beautiful Blue Bell, PA. I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought at most there would be 20 - 25 people picking up a few packages. Ha! Try at least 100 people, some picking up 3 or 4 packages! I had no idea.

That is just one of the rows and rows of bee packages that filled a two car garage. I have to say, it was a tidy operation. A wonderful email came warning us to beware of the "Guard Goose" and advised to just hiss back if she 'comes after you'. There was a demonstration of how to install the package. I heard  three different recipes for the correct proportions of water and sugar to make the right syrup to feed the bees. Very quickly and efficiently I accepted my package of humming ladies, put them in my car, and serenaded them with Peter Gabriel on the 45 minute drive back to West Philadelphia. (And because Philadelphia is a tiny tiny world, of course I ran into someone I know.)

I purchased the new hive about a month ago and have anxiously been prepping and studying in hopes of doing this bee-keeping thing myself.  There is a lot more I need to learn.  I have 26lbs of sugar in the pantry, a new pair of bee gloves, and hive tool. I still need to make my bee hat. As crafty as I am, I should be able to whip something up and save the $25.  That way I can purchase my own frames and supers. Ha - check out the beekeeper lingo! Supers are the boxes, the frames fit inside, and the bees "draw out" the combs and put honey and stuff (larva) in there. 

To keep the bees from starving when they first arrive and are cleaning out the the old frames and learning the lay of the land, the bee keeper has to give them food. In this case the easiest is straight sugar water.  

That is a 128oz jar of sugar water next to a pint mason jar. That's a lot of sugar water. It's a good thing there is a way to keep the bees from starving though. While yesterday was a beautiful day, gorgeous sun, not too hot, today was awful and rainy all day. I did not see a one of my ladies today. This makes me anxious that they all flew away in the night or worse, drowned.  I can only wait until tomorrow to see what happens when I get home.  


There was one member of the family who was not so thrilled about the return of the bees. Jacques kept his distance from the hive and anxiously watched it for the rest of the afternoon from the safety of half a box. 

  I also watched from the deck. 

Last weekend I started replanting the more than 100 sunflower seeds I sowed. 

I planted a lot of other things as well, zinnias, marigolds, kale cosmos, basil, and nasturtiums. 
The nasturtiums were ready to go right into the ground.

  Everybody else needs a little bit more time. 
  At first Jacques kept me company.

Then Miss Mary came over and helped me and we made better progress before it got too cold to sit outside. 

While Jacques and I watched the bees yesterday we finished all of the sunflowers. I also transplanted some of the basil. But there are still a lot to move. Maybe the weather will be better tomorrow. 

Update on May 2nd: I had a bit of internet trouble yesterday so the post is finally finished today. This evening we had some sun and the bees were out flying around and it looked as though they were cleaning their new home. What a relief!
It is supposed to be rainy the next few days, but if all goes well, I should be able to let the queen out of her little box on Wednesday. Fingers crossed. 

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