Bees in a bucket

Early morning observation.
You can’t quite see the ever-changing shape of the bee swarm that’s hanging off the apple tree branch, but it’s there. And Mr. Aderhold came to get it. He’s the beekeeper who collected our rogue swarm. His hive count is now 75. 

Mr. Adherold’s bees make a lot of honey and he sells it locally. In fact, we buy it at Manfull Orchards. I ate some on a piece of toast this morning. Yummy!

The process of collecting a moving swarm of bees is fascinating! Even more astonishing was that Mr. Aderhold didn’t get dressed in full protective gear. Face net, check. Gloves? Nope. He just grabbed his hat, attached a 5-gallon bucket to a pole and raised it up over the swarm. Then he shook the bucket back and forth, and the bees literally fell in the bucket.

According to his guesstimate, it was a moving, swarming two-pound mass of honeybees.

One stung him on the hand … but he said it was his fault.

 

After capturing bees in the bucket, he gently dumped them into the hive. It was amazing … intriguing … and curious. As in I think it would be fun to keep bees — if I could wear a head-to-toe protective suit.

The bees followed him around — no doubt searching for their queen and trying to determine what in the heck just happened. The buzzing got louder and louder as bees left on the tree branch communicated with those in the air and the bulk of the swarm inside the box.

See the bee on Mr. Aderhold’s left hand? It didn’t sting him. He told us that just before bees take off in a swarm they load up on all of the honey in the hive. They’re usually so fat and full they can’t sting.

Apparently when you’re full of sweetness you can’t bend your bottom!

A phenomenon not limited to bees, I might add.

The queen bee doesn’t always get the royal treatment.
Just before a swarm, the bees that usually bring food to the queen STOP. They starve her so she can fly. Apparently her bottom is so big she can’t take off.

We watched the bees making their way to the new digs for quite awhile. Eventually Mr. Aderhold left — promising to return the next day to collect the hive. He wanted to give the bees a chance to settle down and settle in. And they did!

I was enthralled by the entire process. Sure … I’ve seen beehives before. They arrived every spring when I was a kid — boxes of bees in the orchard to greet the rows and rows of blooming apple and peach trees.

But we never went near them.
I’m guessing my parents or grandparents instilled a hefty dose of “Don’t you ever …” to ensure we didn’t let curiosity kill the cat, so to speak. I tried that on Farmboy, too. Suddenly there’s this really cool and interesting box sitting under his climbing tree. He’s a curious boy. Best to nip it in the bud.

Or so I thought.
We were all in the house, cleaning up the supper dishes and doing whatever it is a family of five does on a lazy summer Saturday night. Farmboy came inside and whispered to me …

“Mommy! I was really quiet and I sneaked up to the box really slow and just layed there and a bee landed on my hand and I didn’t move and … IT DIDN’T STING ME! Can you believe it? It was really really cool. I can’t believe it didn’t sting me.”

Clearly the boy’s never been stung. Apparently he needs to be.

I didn’t freak out. I didn’t yell. I didn’t beat his little behind … I simply shared in the wonder of his run-on proclamation and then quietly, calmly said,

“DON’T GO NEAR THAT HIVE AGAIN!”

I know how he feels, though. I, too, was mesmerized by the bees. And if wearing protective gear — safety against an occasional sting — the honeybees wouldn’t be scary at all. It’s mind-boggling what they accomplish. I mean c’mon. Do you like to eat?

Thank a bee.

They’re responsible for the pollination of the plants that you eat, animals that you eat eat, and so on. There’s a reason we call ’em busy bees.

Oh, honey.
It’s two days later and the bees rode off into the sunset with Mr. Aderhold. He left us with a smile and a quart of his honey. And is it coincidence or providence that the programming guide for the local vocational school arrived in my mailbox and beekeeping is one of the classes offered this term.

Hmmm. Possibilities.

Dare I investigate the secret life of bees?

Go exploring! You may enjoy these previous posts.

3 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    mothergoose May 30, 2011 (8:20 am)

    I think you should go for it! It is pretty astonishing! Id consider it but with the allergic people in my house …I’m afraid to give it a shot!

  • comment-avatar
    Becky May 31, 2011 (7:51 pm)

    One of the gals I work with keeps bees at her home and loves it! She’s also been making her own maple syrup…mmmm:)

  • comment-avatar
    Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek June 5, 2011 (9:43 am)

    such a cool post. I never thought about “relocating” bees before! I’m surprised that they just kept going into their new home!