There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. --- Henry David Thoreau

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do,
there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. -- The House at Pooh Corner

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Week o' the Swarms

[Next post from the original first year blog. Edited to update it.]

I filled all the hives with bees this week. It taught me to have faith in the weather. The first sun-drenched dry days of the Spring happened this week and the bees were ready to take advantage. As I wrote earlier, my friend Karen had been hunting for swarms. She came up with a treasure! She happened to know of someone with a grove of bee trees, just beginning to swarm.

The owner happens to be a guy in tune with his land and the natural rhythms involved. He has a wonderful grove of mature Ash trees next to a pond. There are about 6 colonies of honeybees living in the hollows in the trunks. He watches and sees them swarm every year in the springtime. This year Karen happened to be there. We immediately got the first swarm (well, second swarm, really. The first swarm had already moved into his duck box high on another Ash tree.) and transferred it to Karen’s Top Bar Hive. Two more swarms followed in the next four days. The weather was perfect: warm, cloudless days with great sunsets.

And on Mother’s Day, the local Swarm List finally granted me a call to retrieve a swarm. City bees! A big fat swarm on the side of a condo in downtown Eugene. It was a dry swarm, and I got stung a lot though my own carelessness and newbeek mistakes. Molly even got a bee in her hair that stung her. But the swarm ended up in Ed’s Eagles' Rest Beeyard, after a trip to the country in a cardboard box.

By the time I got the two other swarms from the Ash tree grove, I kind of got the hang of moving the bees, and no more stings (so far). Now all the hives are filled with new swarms of delighted, happy bees. Two at Ed’s, one at Karen’s and now one in my hastily assembled and not-quite-fully-painted Warre` hive in my back yard.

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