If you play video games, a la Legend of Zelda, you may know that sometimes a little side quest becomes one of your favorite things. Not the original intent of your journey, but something amazing you did along the way. I recently recounted Joshua and I’s spring break trip. The goal was simple, spend quality time with family and friends back home.
At Judge and Crystal’s house, part of that time meant a mini-road trip to pick up a very special package. And so our very own side quest was born. We started off with a fortifying breakfast at an amazing local restaurant and headed down the mountain. After about an hour, we arrived at our destination: Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.
That’s right. Bee farm. Crystal (my sister-in-law) ordered bees for her birthday a few months ago and they had finally arrived. We drove down to pick them up and I had a blast poking around the farm store and grounds while Crystal and Judge conducted actual business.
The store was fantastic and had a lot of educational material, too. I purchased a praline scented beeswax candle, mostly because it’s the best smell I’ve ever experienced. Eventually we made it outside to pick up the actual bees.
Nothing quite like riding an hour and a half home with 10,000 bees in the car. Anytime the car went around a tight curve, the buzzing got more intense! We headed straight home and got started on moving the bees into their new home. I played photojournalist, so I thought you might check out the process.
Please note, this blog post is anecdotal and my recounting of my own observations. For information on beekeeping, do what Judge and Crystal did–contact your local extension office. In their area, they have a bee-meeting on the first Tuesday of the month. Check it out!
Judge walked me through the hive construction:
The sections with the frames are called supers – this is where the bees live.
Judge and Crystal built the frames and installed the foundation, made of wax – the bees will build the honeycomb onto these foundations.
The top section is the feeder – the bees can crawl up under the mesh and eat sugar water poured into the sides. They need to be fed since they have no honey stores and foraging isn’t quite in full swing.
After that, Crystal set to work moving the bees from their box to their new hive. The first step was to remove a couple of the frames to provide the bees a space to enter en masse. Next, she opened up the box, removed the queen and installed her, and removed the travel feeder.
After that, Crystal gave the bees a good thunk to loosen the big clump they were in and quickly dumped them into the hive. This was probably my favorite part to watch.
Once most of the bees were in the hive, she tilted the box up near the entrance. The bees can find their way to the other bees by pheromones. Before sealing the box back up, Crystal had to very gently reinsert the foundations.
With that, she used a bee-brush to move any stragglers out of harm’s way before adding the feeder, feeding them, and closing up the hive.
Once the hive was closed, we cleaned up and left the bees alone. For the past few days, they have been foraging, starting to turn the hive into a home, and working to free the queen.
Bees are so fascinating. Their hive structure and how they function as a group is really interesting, I learned a lot from Crystal. This was such a fun experience, I’m really grateful to them that they let us be a part of it. Over the rest of our time at Judge and Crystal’s, everyone wanted to visit the bees over and over. I think Crystal even had coffee up there with them.
Bees are makers of the highest order and Crystal’s bees are hard at work. I can’t wait to visit again in a few months and see how they’re doing.