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Free Bees and Honey

We are gearing up for a new season.  Last year we had a wedding to contend with….this year it’s a baby girl!  Shannon and I are very excited to have our first child.  She is due May 24th.

With that news, who knows what will happen with the amount of time I am able to devote to our various hobbies.  I will be doing my best to continue on with a strong season.  Fortunately this year I have a special helper in Kyle.  Kyle is a neighbor kid who will be helping me plant, weed and pick our crops.  Today he was a huge help…

Last Fall, right before the wedding, a woman from Old Fallsington rang my doorbell.  She said she thought she had honeybees in her ceiling and asked if I could help her remove them.  I went to her house and sure enough…honeybees everywhere.  Fortunately they weren’t in her walls or ceiling of her main house and they seemed to be in a good spot for removal.  Unfortunately…. I ran out of time due to the wedding and wasn’t able to help her then.  In the back of my head I thought, “Maybe this isn’t a bad thing”.  The bees wouldn’t survive a move that late in the season and chances are they would overwinter well if left undisturbed.  If they did survive, they would be perfect for me to snag them in the Spring.

So fast forward here to Spring; I drove by one afternoon and saw activity.  There were bees coming and going onesy – twosies.  ”Great” I thought, “they survived”.  I knocked on her door, apologized that I had no time in the Fall and told her I could get them out now.  She was surprised that they were still there considering how many dead bee carcasses were littering the ground below.  I explained to her that a bee colony can go into a Winter with 80,000 workers but typically only 10,000 to 20,000 will remain before Spring begins.  Before the warm weather moved in, now was the time to get it done.

So this morning, Kyle and I suited up.  I carefully removed the covering to her carport and we found the hive.  While I expected to get bees, I did not expect so much honey.  The hive was completely packed with it.  We carefully dislodged the comb from the rafters and placed each piece into a large blue tote.  We took our time, almost two hours, to make sure we didn’t overexcite the colony.  Minimalizing the loss of worker bees would help the colony survive better in it’s new home.  You can’t get bees that are flying about aimlessly to go into a box so I lightly misted the bees with a sugar water solution from a spray bottle.  This keeps the bees busy cleaning themselves off while they are being moved around.  We especially didn’t want to lose the queen…yes she can fly.  The whole operation was useless without finding her and keeping her safe to move to the new hive.

It was an incredibly messy job (Gravity + honey = sticky mess) but everything went smoothly.   We found the queen bee huddled in a ball of bees and put her into a water bottle temporarily.  Sometimes you just have to improvise.  We wasted no time in bringing the tote to my house and placing them carefully comb by comb into an empty wooden hive behind my house.  After we had most of the workers in the box, we let the queen out of her water bottle holding cell.  I can’t say how happy I am to get this wild bee colony.

We gave the bees back plenty of their own honey, but even so….we ended up with a ton of honey.  It looks like we have about two gallons which we will be bottling tomorrow.  So to break it down; we ended up with a free colony of bees and 2 gallons of excellent honey.

I am sorry there aren’t more pictures, it’s really hard to take them with honey dripping everywhere!  I will have to take some pictures of the filled honey bears when we finish tomorrow.

4 comments to Free Bees and Honey

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