a week and a half after finding themselves traveling from Georgia to the western hills of PA, our bees have settled into their new homes and are already busy making babies.
we opened the hives this evening and pulled out two of the busiest frames from each hive (the ones covered with the most bees). after observing them closely, we found evidence of eggs (little white “commas” in each cell) AND some larvae already (little white “worms” that would normally send me squealing in gross-out, but these are exciting because that means the bees are growing!). see examples of both in the above picture.
they’re also making lots of honey, and the honeysuckle bush behind them (next to our old barn) is in full bloom. i’m hoping they’re using the sugar water i give them to build comb, and the pollen from the honeysuckle to make honey – how heavenly would honeysuckle honey be?
checking the hives in the heat of the day isn’t easy. as soon as i have my hat/netting secure and my gloves on, my face automatically gets an itch. then my hair falls out of any pony tail and starts to cover my face and by the time we’ve spent only five minutes in the hives, said hair is plastered on my face from all the sweat. i must really love those little bees to allow myself to get into this much of a hot mess over them!
since one of the packages we got a few weeks ago was badly damaged, the apiary is sending us another package of bees in case they don’t become strong enough to survive. so far, the hives both seem to be at equal strength, but we’re due to get the third package this week. we have lots of work to do to get three active hives filled over the next few months. i’m hoping all the hard work that we (and the bees!) get done yield a huge harvest!
and of course, happy, content bees that are strong enough to survive over the winter and start the spring strong!
i wrote this blog post last night, planning to publish it first thing this morning. soon after we turned the lights out in the house, kenny heard some outside noise near the garage. “oh my goodness…it’s a big black bear in the recycling bin.” i ran to the window in time to see it waddle away with the flashlight on him (i only ever get to see the back side of a running bear. kenny always sees them up close because he has no fear of them like i do). he was running towards the hives, so kenny grabbed the flashlight and ran outside.
i stayed on the front porch yelling things like, “do you see him?” and ” get back inside!” and “does he see you?” and then all i could hear from the other side of the garage is tree branches rustling and snapping. of course, in my mind i see a black bear tackling my husband. then i was assured by kenny’s unfrightened voice, “he’s up the tree now.” he ran inside to get a firearm to scare the bear away.
kenny tells me to get into his car and shine the headlights onto the tree where the bear is. i look at him like he’s nuts because that would require me to STEP OFF THE FRONT PORCH and into the infested black bear territory. he needs the lights because he can’t shoot and hold his flashlight at the same time. he keeps telling me i’m safe as i reluctantly walk towards the car (which is inches away from the bear. okay, i’m exaggerating a little…) muttering things like, “you OWE me!” and “you don’t know how scared i am right now” like a baby and slam the door shut behind me as i turn on the headlights.
he shoots into the air (a shotgun, the loudest shot of all). no branches breaking or bear thumping to the ground to run away. just echo and silence.
kenny then walks over to the tree and shines the light up. and the bear is sitting on a branch, about 10 feet up, backside facing, head turned toward him. he snaps a picture while i yell things like, “you’re NUTS!” “GET OVER HERE NOW!” as though he is a toddler. this picture reminds me of the “proof that bigfoot exists!” photos. you just can’t really see the bear, but he’s there. the dark area to the bottom, right of center is his backside sitting on a branch. his eye and snout are turned toward the camera, just below the flash.
i went out this morning and found lots of broken branches underneath “his” tree, and a gift he left for us.
we camped out on the deck watching for when he’d come down himself so that we would make sure he didn’t go toward the hives. i forgot to mention that the tree he was in was right next to the hives. he either smelled the bacon-baited electric fence, or the bees/honey/comb. if he went for the bacon, he probably got a hefty shock, so hopefully he won’t be returning soon. i’m happy to say the hives are safe and sound right now. i’m so thankful we put the fence up right away this time!
he finally dropped down and left around 12:30. i’m hoping this doesn’t happen again, but that’s the adventure of farm-living, i guess.
and i wouldn’t trade it for anything.