What a crazy time spring is for beekeepers, eh? I think “this spring is the wildest spring” each spring. For the entire 2 springs I’ve kept bees. Besides figuring out when exactly is the best time to remove a bee quilt, when to add pollen patties, take off a candy board, and feed pre-flow sugar syrup I now have to consider House Bees.
I consider myself a novice beekeeper still as I have decided to care for only one hive and it’s been a couple years now. I’m still on the fence about loving bee keeping if I’m being completely honest. It’s the traumatic bee events that keep me non-committal. For instance, I began panicking about my bees a few days ago. Why you ask? I found 3 little bees huddled together on my living room carpet. Strange I thought… maybe they hitch hiked in on one of us? Odd, but maybe it could happen… Then a little later I went into a different room and found more bees on the floor and around the windows! Then I knew these weren’t merely hitchhikers. A swarm came to mind, but my hive’s numbers last week were quite low and I thought it would be unlikely for them to need to swarm given they have plenty of room to grow into at this point. Still, I panicked! What if they WERE my bees swarming?!?! So in my panic, I immediately proceeded to step on one poor bee and get the stinger in my bare toe. Yay!! After pulling out the stinger, I called my very smart bee mentor, neighbor and good friend Chris, who encouraged me to get into beekeeping by gifting me a nuc 2 years ago along with many other bee related generosities. He’s always honest and straight to the point. I asked him, “What could be going on???” He said, and I quote, ” I don’t know, bees are weird.” This was after his thought about my bees swarming. Indeed, bees are weird! They really just do what they want.
Mentor Chris said he had a swarm in one of his trees by his bee hives at that very moment but he couldn’t get to them to capture the swarm. So swarm season is in high gear! Our CCBA President is getting so many calls she can’t field them all by herself. The bees are going bananas! I keep to myself almost exclusively so I am merely guessing that all of us bee keepers try to figure out why bee things happen the way they do… Was it the long winter? The strange and few high temperatures in the early spring? The hyper rainfall? The tornado warning weather? Yes. Yes, it is all of that and a ton of other things we humans can’t even begin to understand or see or feel as possibilities.
Before donning my bee suit and firing up my smoker to check on my solo hive, I scooped up all of my ‘House Bees’ that Mentor Chris’s wife, Heather aptly named for me. You know, like the House Elf, Dobby from Harry Potter who by the way was supposed to be lucky. Hopefully, House Bees imparted just as much luck as Dobby. I counted about 25 House Bees that I escorted out of doors and gently shook into the bushes. For the life of me I can’t figure out how they were getting into the house. We didn’t have any windows or doors open, the fireplace flue had been closed weeks ago. I guess if they only need 5/8 inch bee space to squeeze through that potentially leaves a lot of places by which to enter. Still, unnerving… what else has been trespassing that I DON’T know about???
It gives me great pleasure to report that my hive was in tact, complete with the Queen Mum, when I opened up my hive. Whew! My lucky House Bees must have been just passing by as a reminder to get into my hive, at least that’s what I’m telling myself about these incredibly smart and beautiful stinging insects that I’m finding hard to commit to and hard to give up.