By far, this was the biggest push we've ever made in the bee industry! We, meaning me, completely underestimated the amount of work it would take to pull off this little endeavor. Three posts in, and I am not even finished relaying the story from one single night. We were tired. We were loopy. We were frustrated. We fought. We laughed. We almost cried, but managed to keep it together. I really think we were just numb to the possibilities of what was to come next.
We moved small hives with success. We moved large hives with failure. My Full-Timer had been stung. I had a bee get inside my veil. We had bees in the truck. We had been lost in the middle of a large pasture. I had tested my flexibility while carrying 80 lbs. of equipment and trying to skate across a cow patty. This night would not end! We had a full knock-down-drag-out over simple math. We just wanted to quit. Unfortunately, quitting was not an option, and really not in my DNA.
We pushed onward.
We pulled into the pasture, and out to the next set of bee hives. These hives were also really big. We knew this was not going to be easy. We knew our previous plan of action had failed miserably. As we parked and jumped out to assess the situation, my Full-Timer looked at me and said,
"This would be a lot easier if we just moved both boxes at the same time."
I knew we couldn't do this together. There is no way we could get on each side and pick them up together. The size and dimensions of the boxes make this impossible. Plus, if we were both consumed with moving the boxes, who would put the lid on the remaining boxes? This left me just laughing. I could tell she was tired. I could tell she was over it, but this was a bold statement in my mind. It didn't help when she sort of leaned back on the trailer as she said it. Like...
"Mom. You do it."
Easy for her to say!
I think I just started mumbling at this point. Or, possibly it was grumbling. It also included laughing at the audacity of her request. While flattered with her confidence in my ability, I was also shocked at the boldness of her statement. I'm pretty sure I told her she was crazy and I didn't think I could do it. Then, there is that stupid DNA thing I have. That thing that won't let me quit when I really want to. That thing that drives me. That thing that makes me more than a little crazy at times.
I grabbed a bottom board and placed it directly on the trailer this time. I knew if I was able to pick up both boxes at the same time, there would be no way I would be able to get low enough to set them on the ground. I had already done my fair share of squats on this particular night. Coupled with the splits I had attempted, the old legs were starting to give out on me. I then handed her a lid and the screen. Even as I approached the first hive, I had serious doubts about the success of this new plan. As I prepared myself for the attempt, my mind was screaming,
"There is no way this is going to work!"
I grabbed the boxes and managed to get them off the hive. As I slowly moved away, my Full-Timer threw the lid on the remaining boxes. I made my way to the trailer, unable to see crap. She ran up behind me and helped me guide the boxes down onto the bottom board. As I stepped away in disbelief, she put the lid on top of the boxes and shoved the screen in the opening at the bottom. Then, very proud of herself, she started strapping all the boxes together with a tie-down strap, and over her shoulder said,
"Okay. You did it. Now grab another one!"
It really is a good thing she's cute and I love her. If not, I may have killed her at this point. She tried to mask her second bold request with compliments regarding my success. It was her "Wow! That was easy!" attitude that made me want to tackle her right there. I managed to muster the last bit of strength I had, and we moved the rest of the splits in this area the same way. It was crazy. Jumping back in the truck, it was hard not to notice her elevated mood. She really seemed pleased with herself. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I got played. She's known for saying the right things, at the right times, to get the results she's looking for. We all have a joke about how she'll make a great wife someday. At times, I really feel sorry for that guy. He's not going to have a clue what he's in for. Even as a toddler, she had a way with manipulation. Her favorite saying..
"Be nice to me 'cause I'm the baby!"
Who can be mad at that?
I'm not really sure why, but we decided to go drop off the hives we had loaded. It went well, and we headed back home. We had one hive left to move. It was a small hive, but we were not looking forward to this last box. These bees had a reputation for being mean. It happens on occasion, and it really makes bee keeping less enjoyable when you have an aggressive hive. There are several reasons a hive can become aggressive. My experience usually revolves around a hive not having a queen. When this happens, they are doing what they can to raise a new queen and ensure their survival. In this instance, they become super aggressive. It is understandable, but still not pleasant. This hive had a queen. This hive had no excuse. This hive was just nasty, and they made no bones about it. The plan, split this hive and place a new queen in the split. Then, go back and kill the original queen and give them a new one. All in hopes of introducing some new, nicer genetics.
As we pulled around to the hive, we both took a deep breath and got out of the truck. Myself moving a little slower than before. I placed a bottom board directly next to the original hive. We knew our best bet would be to minimize the amount of time each box was open. My Full-Timer had the lids and the screen ready. We gave a count of three, then I grabbed the top box. As I placed it on the bottom board, she sprung into action. We had the lids placed back on the boxes and the screen in place in record time!
It was not enough!
They poured out of the boxes. They were everywhere, and they were mad! We grabbed the single box and threw it on the trailer. I mean it. We threw it. I yelled for my help to get a tie-down strap, and as she was jumping in the truck, she yelled back at me,
"Forget it! Let's go!"
I jumped in the truck right behind her, and she just looked over and said,
"Sorry, but I hope they fall off the truck!"
I couldn't argue. I was too tired to argue, and secretly, I was hoping the same thing. Unfortunately, or not depending on your perspective, they were tenacious little girls. They made the trip just fine. Unloading them seemed to be a little easier than loading them. We headed home on our final trip of the night. We didn't unload the truck or the trailer. I don't even think we spoke to each other. We stripped off our bee equipment and went straight to bed. It was well after 2:00 am when my head hit the pillow. The first leg of this journey was finally over!
The creepy thing...
I kept hearing bees. In my bedroom, as I laid there trying to fall asleep, I kept hearing bees. It took forever to go to sleep. The next morning, over coffee, my Full-Timer told me she had a hard time falling asleep as well. She kept hearing bees. In her bedroom, trying to fall asleep, all she could hear was bees. Only made better by the fact that a fly landed on her hand! She flipped out and jumped out of bed to turn the light on.
As I took a sip of coffee, nursing my back and legs, I thought to myself...
"Payback is awesome!"