It’s official we are beekeepers! Our first nuc of honey bees are coming home today! After much research on the net, reading books, and completing our 8 week class on how to raise honey bees taught by a professional bee keeper it is time to bring them home. During our last class in early spring we were scheduled to pick up our first nuc. A nuc is a small box that holds five frames, with about 20,000 young bees, and their queen. We packed the car with our bee suits and made sure the trunk was empty as that is where we would place the bees to bring them home. After closing the trunk we climbed in the car and began our 1 hour jaunt to the beekeepers bee yard. If you are interested in being a beekeeper or just love to read about bees come along with us to pick up our bees.
The Nuc Honey Bee Yard
Excitement mounted as we arrived in the parking lot of the bee keeper. All of the class graduates were in the parking lot. Each of us were donning our various types of bee suits so we could go down to the nuc bee yard. Some of us have full bee suits on and you can bet Mr. Man and I sure did. It was amazing to see people just wearing a netted hard hat head covering . I would have freaked out if I only had that much protection from the bees. Everyone is ready and we head down to the nuc yard and the adventure begins.
After arriving and while Lincoln our teacher is explaining about our nucs little by little honey bees begin to fill the air. At first there is just a few,but more and more and more of them begin to arrive. There were thousands of them in the air. Apparently, one of the nucs had lost their queen and the honey bees do what honey bees do naturally. They made three new queens, and they all hatched. Two of the queens abscond and leave the hive. When leaving they take thousands of honey bees with them. Normally, when a queen absconds she will head to a tree branch high up in the air. All her bees will gather around her and literally hang around while the scout bees find the colony a new home. Instead of hanging on a tree these queens decided to land on two of my fellow students. One of them had on just a head cover that white shirt is a shirt, and the other one had on a full bee suit. Those bees landed on them and literally covered their heads and shoulders. The men remained calm and composed for the most part. WOW!
Lincoln to the Rescue
Lincoln shares with the class…a true teacher taking advantage of a teachable moment. He has never seen this happen in his 20 plus years of bee keeping. He giggles and laughs and says …ya just never know what is going to happen. At this point the fellow with just the head- gear on started to get a tad nervous has thousands of buzzing, homeless bees heavily covered him. Can’t blame him there. Lincoln decides that he will need to remove the queen from each of the men or else the bees would hang on them for days.
Picking out our Honey Bee Nuc
After all was back to normal the process of picking out our nucs began. We waited our turn and we were able to pick a very strong and full nuc. Yea. Mr. Man went and got the car and drove it down while Lincoln’s assistant prepared the nuc we picked out for travel. After he finished we placed it into our car. We drove back up to the parking lot, and removed our bee keeping suits. Smiling at each other we hopped in the car and headed home.
We Bee Buzzing
As we are traveling home along the back roads in the middle of nowhere we notice a couple of bees in the rear window. We stop at a restaurant parking lot, hop out of the car, and open the trunk to check the nuc. Everything looked okay. But it wasn’t. We later realized that the assistant had not closed the nuc properly which allowed them to escape the nuc. We decided to eat. After all everything looked okay. LOL…should have known that was not a brilliant idea. But we were hungry! After eating we plodded on home, and we started to see a few more bees in the rear window. Huh? Just like at the nuc bee yard more and more and more bees showed up in the back window. At this point we are both getting very nervous. So, Mr. Man pulls into someone’s driveway. We both throw open our doors and grab our bee suits climb in them and jump back into the car. If I was living in that house and was home I would have freaked out. It looked like some officials had arrived on their property with Hasmat suits and were taking over, because of some dangerous chemical spill. Both of us went into hysterical laughter when we got back in the car. I wish I had a video of that moment. It was still a half hour before we would arrive home and those bees kept on coming into the car. We got on the phone and called Lincoln, but he was out and about.
We kept on driving and tried not to panic. The BUZZZZZZZZ ing got louder and louder. We had made up our minds the best thing to do was to get home. Eventually, the phone rang and after telling Lincoln our tale of woe…. all we heard was his raptures of laughter. When he finally got himself composed he told us that these are baby bees, and they will not sting. Oh,yes …a car full of bees and no worries. Try that on for size. Ummm ya! Not.
Honey Bees Home Safe and Sound
We made it home with our bees all safe and sound. It was a fun and interesting adventure to bring our bees home, and soon the bees will be all snugged up in their hives. Even with all the research we did it is clear that being a beekeeper is a very fluid experience. If you want to be a beekeeper know that there are absolutes, and then there are the surprises. Do all your research and classes so you are prepared and educated. Just keep in mind many things will not be written in books, and talking with experienced beekeepers will help you along the way. Even if they go into raptures of laughter when you call and ask questions! LOL!!!
Till next time,
Photo credit for the swarming bees go to Highland Organics. Love her organic blueberry farm. We were picking up our bees at the same time. She happened to have her camera.