Monday, July 9, 2012

Hive Relocation Day

   Yesterday was an important day around here, certainly one for the hobby farmer's history books. Maribeth visited  and helped me relocate our two bee hives from their temporary waxy box homes to their permanent wooden-ware mansions. Perhaps you remember the painting day we had just before bringing the bees home? Well, now all of that artwork and passion is being enjoyed by our 79,987 buzzing, winged children.

   In addition to moving the bees, we also collected several gorgeous chunks of honey comb and about 20 ounces of fresh, raw honey. Our very first harvest of the molten treasure was a surprise to me, as was seeing how much honey was still on the combs when we closed the hives and walked uphill. Just weeks after bring bees to the Lazy W, we have our own honey. Gobs and gobs of the thick, oozing beautiful stuff.

   Everything went so well. The hives are abundantly healthy and have multiplied much more than I expected. The interior frames are all loaded with honey comb, capped brood and capped honey. The bees were active but gentle. Incredibly gentle. At one point I was holding a frame, gazing at the many different cells and relishing a sudden forest breeze, when I felt a heavy vibration on my right hand. At least twenty bees were clustered across my gloved knuckles, buzzing and flittering without malice. Throughout our afternoon in the bee yard, Maribeth's arms and veil were often dotted by a dozen or more bees, and they all swam loosely and peacefully in the air around us. I never one time felt threatened.

As always, Mia kept his loving vigil. He never crossed the threshold into the bee yard,
but he honked affectionately and watched us the whole time we worked.

Smoking the bees a little calms them down, and it calms me down too.
The fragrance is not terribly unlike burning sage,
a Native American practice used in all kinds of prayerful rituals.

Can you see how glossy and vibrant the honey is? And how calm the bees are?
And how much I look like a Pink Power Ranger?
Here I am using a plain spoon from the kitchen to scrape the raw honey.
Later I licked it clean and almost cried form the deliciousness.

Maribeth is using a "hive tool" to scrape that thick, luscious raw honey off of the frame.
You can see its straight path there in the gold.

Honey bees possess incredibly accurate internal "GPS" systems,
allowing them to distinguish between two hive locations only inches apart.
Bonus points if you can find the Lazy W animal portrait hidden here! 

I now know that a quart of raw honey weighs about three pounds. 

This little guy was nobody's enemy.
He only circled our sticky tools and gloves and meandered through some clover patches.
But Maribeth did endure one sting yesterday and taught me that
rubbing a speck of honey on the site will kill the pain and reduce swelling.

   Big thanks to Maribeth for her guidance and help. If any of you lovely people should ever venture to keep bees, I hope you find a mentor like her. She makes it feel as natural and magical and unintimidating as it should, and I believe the bees are benefiting from this mood. Also big thanks to Handsome for photographing our second trip to the bee yard yesterday. I will treasure these photos.

Work Hard & Be Sweet to Each Other  


  1. You almost make me want to be a bee keeper. Almost. Does this mean you have fresh honey for sale or just enough for family consumption? :)

  2. You totally look like a pink Power Ranger. This is awesome! I'm so glad Handsome was able to document the journey, and that Maribeth was there to guide you through it. What an awesome experience!


  3. So cool! I don't know if I could do it, but just love the idea. Plus do I get to wear one of those cool pink jumpsuits if I get bees?

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  5., the bees & The Lazy W. Thank goodness my man MIA was there to supervise.

    Bee Sweet,
    Rose <3

  6. Gorgeous! It amazes me how quickly these girls get to work and make that beautiful comb and honey. I have a top bar hive so harvesting honey is a touch more complicated. As moving them will be! I'm so glad your colonies are happy and healthy. And I love your pink bee suit.

  7. I want to come take pictures of your bees in the fall. Maybe one day, you can mentor me. I'd love to have bees.~~Dee


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