The bad news is my bees died, probably late last winter; and my yard this spring, though bursting with wildflowers, lush greenery, chickens, and wildlife, seemed like a ghost town. How I missed my girls following me around the yard like paparazzi. According to the news, winter bee losses have been catastrophic this year, and the buzz amongst my bee-keeping fellows is that they have felt the sting as well. I was lucky to get more bees so quickly from Tassot Apiaries. I picked up a ‘nuc’ box full of them just this morning.
I arrived at Tassot where owner Jean Claude carried the ominously humming box to my Mini Cooper and placed it in the back. He instructed me to suit up fully when I got home, set them in their new place (next to the hive they’d soon inhabit), tear off the screen, and run. “They’ll be very angry about then, and go right for you!” he warned.
Slumping, I said “…Don’t really have a suit, I just tie a veil over a straw hat and call it good.”
“Good luck, then!” he said with a sweet, concerned smile, and slapped down the back hatch.
It was a bit of a rush, that hour driving home. The Mini had never felt so small with that box full of 10,000 agitated bees pressing against the screen… angry, scared, hungry, and all staring at me. I called my teacher, Bee Man Paul Scutt. He gave me some further instructions to help the bees adjust after arrival, with the promise that he would come over and help me make the transfer into the hive in the morning.
A protected spot, nestled in my woods, was the place for them; They were left to settle while I fixed them a snack of last year’s honey (from my old bees) still full of wax and pollen, and diluted with a little water. (Feeding bees with honey might be dangerous for them as it might spread disease. But I felt pretty sure my old girls didn’t die of disease in that way. The thinking was that the complex sugars of honey might be less agitating than white sugar, and I really wanted these new ones to love their new home.) So before freeing them, I tipped the spoon full of this honey-water against the screen and watched a few minuscule tongues appear. More spoonfuls a few minutes later resulted in exponentially more tongues sticking through the screen. Word was spreading in there … Yeah, I had ’em eating out of my hand.
Then, per Bee Man Paul’s instructions I placed branches in front of their entrance. I was ready.
Then I swallowed hard, yelled, “Welcome Home, Girls!”, ripped off the screen and ran like the wind. (Ok, maybe an august wind.) I returned a few minutes later to find them contentedly buzzing about their new surroundings, taking no interest in me. I returned a few minutes later to find them happily exploring their new home with no interest in me. Anyway, no stings today!
It’s amazing, isn’t it… that offering a little homemade something to eat, created by people (and critters) who care, is such a loving welcome and gives a fresh start to a rough day. So, welcome home to you, Everyone! and may you change the course of any crummy day with this Honey-Poppy Seed Tea Cake recipe!