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Saturday, April 11, 2015


My friend Patrick is a lot of fun. He's a committed socialist, a union ironworker with a PhD, and experienced urban beekeeper. Among other things. I detest boring people, and Patrick is the opposite of a bore.

He's helping me out with getting back into beekeeping. I've done it, but really, I did it for I think two seasons ending in 2002, so the shit I've forgotten could fill a top-bar hive.

We installed the bees this morning. The supplier I got packages from way back when, the queen came with a candy cap the girls would eat through to free her over the course of the three days or so they need to get used to her. Kind of like Hilary Clinton campaigning for the Democratic nomination, it's going to happen, but the bees need to go through the motions. Okay, that's a flawed analogy, Hilary probably stands less risk of rejection than a new queen bee.

Anyway, the queen in this package will have to be released manually. Patrick thinks this is because some capitalist saved a nickel not using a candy cap. I suspect that the supplier my bees came from circa 2001, his grandpa used candy caps and so he does too. But Patrick might be right, if you save enough nickels, you can have an extra dinner out at Red Lobster and that is heaps of temptation to some people.

Pouring the bees in after setting the queen case in the bottom of the hive, well, it seems like a lot of bees poured in but an awful lot were still int he package. Which Patrick fretted about and so did I. I also fretted about being stung, kind of. I was wearing my bug-baff, gloves, had my pants tucked into my socks, so I wasn't in much danger of actually being stung yet I was still a little freaked out by bees buzzing near my ear. I know it's just a matter of getting used to it, I guess 13 years was enough to reset the automatic response.

Patrick was saying he didn't like working in gloves because of the limitations it imposes, though he admitted to being somewhat allergic to the stings and that he gets stung when he bare hands it. I guess the way I look at it, handling bees without gloves is like patronizing a prostitute without a condom.

So this evening I'll go out and see how many girls are still hanging out in the package box. Probably not very many, you could kind of tell they were starting to figure out that the hive was home. The sugar water can from the package still had some left in it, I have a mason jar of 1:1 solution to replace it when it's empty. I'll put the can between the package and the hive this evening when they've had a few hours to settle in.

I'm super excited about this. We have in our little yard 36 or so garden beds plus fruit trees: two cider apples, two dessert apples, three figs, a peach and an apricot. We have thornless blackberries, we have grapes, raspberries, and so on. Bees can travel a mile for food, but I'm guessing these bees won't have to go that far most of the time.

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