Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Bloopers in Beekeeping

So I haven't kept honeybees now for the past 4 years. It was a fun hobby that barely paid for itself and created a love hate relationship with my neighbors. My neighbors behind us would get buzzed now and then when mowing the lawn, which is an experience that's always scary when it happens to a non-beekeeper. The same neighbors though know I have a bee suit and whenever paper wasps or yellow jackets made a nest around their home, I'm usually the one they called.

Well this past spring a swarm of bees landed on the borough hall and the police who are still friends with my dad gave him a call. He went and caught it and surprised me one day, placing the hive in a spot that I've since planted a garden... so I told him it had to move. Also because I haven't kept bees for 4 years I've actually been trying to get rid of our beekeeping stuff, so we don't really have the basic tools anymore.

We scrounged together enough stuff to get the job done. There's a spot along the side of our house that will be better for a beehive. We wait for nightfall, load them on a cart and carefully haul the hive around the house. We have to take the long way because the spot is technically out front and there isn't a gate on that side of the house. It's dark as we move them down the driveway, along the front sidewalk because other gardens block a more immediate path across the front lawn. Moments later we make it around the house and put them in the new spot. 

The next day comes and I realize that somehow I completely forgot that you can't just move a beehive. Foraging bees only imprint where the hive is during the first orientation flight they take. This tells them where "home" is, and they will only do it if the hive is moved a few miles from the previous location and they don't recognize any landmarks in their flight. Basically we didn't' move them far enough from the old spot. So all of the bees that went out to forage that morning went back to the old location in the backyard where the hive was yesterday. Hundreds of bees were just flying around this one spot not quite sure where to land. Eventually they took up residence in an old hive box I was going to throw away.

So.... we just had to load the hive back onto the cart and take it for its nightly walk around the house hoping the neighbors don't realize what we're doing. They're back in the starting location now and we put the box all the foraging bees settled into on top so everyone should be happy now.

The hive still has to move though so the plan is to leave the hive on the cart and just move it a few feet each night until we make it to the fence. Then one night they'll just be on the other side of it and back to the new spot where I want them put. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan.

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