Thursday, April 26, 2012

Iron Oak Farm's a Buzzzzing!

Zach finally got his bees! It's been a long time coming and I'm SO happy for him! He's wanted bees for years, we both have, but he has been at the heart and driving force of the operation. I want honey, which is perhaps a little different than wanting bees. I think they are fascinating little creatures, but up until the other day, I have to be honest, I was quite petrified.

I gave Zach his first hive set up for Christmas this past December.

The kit was mostly self constructive and he spent the winter evenings nailing the frames and boxes together methodically.

We painted them white and settled them out on the property on cinder blocks, facing south, between two honeysuckle bushes.

We got the call that our bees were in so, with our trusty, bee keeping enthusiast and assistant Stacey, we headed out!

We're lucky enough to be within driving distance of one of the largest bee keeping suppliers in the United States. Dadant, located in Albion, Mi. is only about an hour and a half away! So with Benedryll, Calamine lotion, and water bottles for quick administration of antihistamines, we were on the road to pick up a box of bees!

We arrived at the loading dock where there were boxes and boxes of bees waiting to be taken to their new homes.

They were buzzing, but not the terrifying angry sound that I had imagined in my head. It was sort of peaceful and kind of soothing. A stray bee landed on me and a I jolted. But I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of the workers who did this for a living, so I reigned in every ounce of self restraint and blew it off my arm. Hmmm, not so bad.

In fact, the more I was around the bees, the more my amazement helped me forget about my fear. Zach and Stacey's enthusiasm also helped a great deal! I told Zach I wanted a veil of my own so I could help.

When we got back we made a simple syrup to feed the bees while they get their home established, and grabbed a little marshmallow fluff, (I'll explain later)

We headed out with our box of bees, our veils, and our supplies. When we got to the hive, Zach removed the tin can carefully. This is filled with a simple syrup as well to feed the bees during delivery.

Then he removed the queen which is separated by a tiny box with a screen. This allows the worker bees to tend to the queen, but makes her easily accessible to us so we can put her in our new hive. The bees cluster around her in the shipping box to keep her warm.

He removed the cork that keeps the queen in her box and replaced it with a bit of marshmallow fluff. The worker bees will eat through the marshmallow to release the queen once we're gone and the lid is on.

Then Zach sprayed the bees in the shipping box with that same simple syrup. This keeps the bees busy cleaning themselves and eating while he "dumped" them in.

That was pretty much it! We all got through it sting free! Even Zach, who found that wearing the gloves was more of a hindrance than a help, as the bees kept flying up his sleeves. 

We have to check them in a couple days, to make sure the queen is ok. I walked out there yesterday and they were pleasantly coming and going. We also have to keep their syrup filled until they establish enough of the hive to support themselves, and even then, it's not a bad idea to feed them during bad weather.

Knowing myself, I'm sure eventually you'll find Zach and me working out there side by side. I'm also sure that at some point we'll both get stung, but for steps. I'm comfortable playing photographer, or errand girl, running back to the house for something we may have forgotten.

When I look out on our field, I'm happy to see the little white box nestled near the tree line, and am filled with respect for these hard working little insects that do so much for us. Welcome bees!   


Bobbi Buller said...

How exciting!

Toni said...

How wonderful!! How long will it take till you have your very own honey and bees wax?

Jennifer Sartell said...

Thanks! According to the man that sold us the hive, we could have our first honey crop by July! The beeswax is a bit confusing. For every 10 lbs of honey you get 1 lb of wax, but he explained that in our northern climate, if you harvest too much wax it can be hard on the bees to replenish it before winter, so we'll have to play it by ear.

Post a Comment

Post a Comment