Friday, October 17, 2014

You should know...

  • I have twenty-million things to do today!
  • My Google calendar says, "You have no events scheduled for today."
  • I laughed when I was informed my entire day was free!
  • I am slurping down a giant, iced-coffee as I type.
  • I really have no business being on the internet right now.
  • I am sick of hearing about Ebola.
  • I may have a very bad attitude at this very moment.
  • Oddly, I still have my sense of humor.
  • ...a very dark sense of humor, but none-the-less!

So.  What does one do, when one has too many things to do?  

Write a blog post!

It is my way of seeming productive, while still sitting in my study, not doing a darn thing!

As I left you, we only had ten splits to do!  Still super funny, but that was the way my brain was functioning at the time.  It's only ten splits!  To get ready for our expansion, first, we had to set up a new bee yard.  I had a guy interested in having hives on his property.  For some people, they don't want to hear of it.  Bees on their land!  No way!  Others are more supportive. Plus, it doesn't hurt I pay my land leases in honey! The idea of honey harvested from their own land and they don't have to lift a finger!  Super appealing!  

How much more local can you get?

We went about setting up our yard.  This just involves fencing off a small ten by twenty foot area.  The bees prefer an open area in full sun, and the fencing has nothing to do with my girls.  It is really about fencing things out.  Primarily, cattle!  

Little known fact about cows:  They love to investigate whatever is new in their area.  They also love to scratch every part of their body on a new surface.  

Cows scratching up against bee hives equal bee hives getting knocked over.

This happened to me once.

Some lessons I learn very quickly.

The next step in our expansion revolves around actually dividing our existing hives.  The process starts early in the day.  We divide the existing frames of brood and honey.  We place a queen excluder over the bottom half of the hive which is to remain in its current location.  Add the new boxes with the frames to be moved in the top half of the hive, and leave them alone.  As the bees return from their daily chores, they will evenly divide between the frames and the boxes.  After sunset, we return to take the top half to their new home.  In theory, it is a piece of cake!  


Bees don't really take kindly to being divided and moved to a new home.  They aren't supposed to fly in the dark.  For this reason, we suit up and do the best we can, while not being able to see a stinkin' thing!  It all comes down to sneaking around and trying to be quiet.  All the while, doing the best you can to avoid using a flash light.  You see, if you were to sneak up on a hive in the dark and shine a bright light in their faces, they're going to come after you!  

I've done splits before.  I've even done this all by myself in fact.  It was on a very small scale, and it was a huge mistake.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons.  Mostly, "I'm never doing this alone again!"  Luckily, I had my Full-Timer on hand this go round.  With our hives ready in the field, the only thing left to do was to go pick them up.  

This was the beginning of my realization of this being WAY bigger than just doing ten splits.  

It started with the logistical planning.  Where to start?  What to do first?  Who to move where?  How to organize it and minimize our efforts?  Can I also add, this is where it really started getting a little confusing? In addition, may I add, my Full-Timer was of little help during this process?  She just kept looking at me confused, and in total agreement with whatever I was saying.  She had zero input!  She had completed her education, and apparently this had consumed all of her brain's capacity for rational thinking.


Our first stop - pick up a small trailer to use in our adventure.  A trailer belonging to a friend.  A trailer he had been begging/arguing with me to take for weeks.  You see, he was tired of mowing and weed-eating around it.  A trailer I did not want to take.  A trailer I did not want to mow or weed-eat around.  A trailer we had argued about at every meeting.  A trailer that had become a hot topic of conversation in our entire town.  A trailer, in the end, I realized I could use.  A trailer I now mow and weed-eat around.  

May I add... the evening we picked up this trailer.  This friend of ours.  Stood in his driveway.  Jumping up and down.  Yelling...

"I Won!"

With our trailer in tow, choking down the feathers from the crow I had just eaten, we headed north to The Blue Dog Bee Lady. We were picking up two small splits in her bee yard.  When I say small, I mean they consisted of one box each.  We hit her place just at dusk and she was suited up and waiting.  We pulled out two bottom boards, grabbed the two boxes from her hives and moved them over.  After adding lids, we blocked the hive entrances with pieces of screen and strapped all the components together.  Loading them into the truck, we were pretty pleased with ourselves.  It all went according to plan.  No problems or issues.  We pulled back onto the road feeling calm and confident.

This feeling was short lived!

Pulling into our next bee yard, we were picking up four splits from this location.  These were not as small.  If I remember correctly, each split contained two boxes.  This means the original hives were four boxes high. We were grabbing the top two, leaving the bottom two.  This little fact complicated the entire process.  Picking up two boxes at a time is very difficult.  The dimensions of the boxes make it awkward to manage.  Then, add the weight of two boxes and it becomes back-breaking.  For this reason, we were moving each box individually.  What we didn't consider, this gives the bees more time to realize what is happening, and in turn, they tend to get a little nastier.  I said earlier bees don't fly in the dark.  Not entirely true.  They won't fly out in droves, but there are a few that will do their best to defend their hive, committing their lives to the preservation of their sisters.

The first hive was a learning process.  We set a bottom board outside the bee yard near the trailer.  My Full-Timer grabbed a box and I grabbed a box.  This left one of us to put the lid back on the original hive, and the other responsible for placing the lid and the screen on the new split.  I won't say it went well.  We experienced more bees than we had at our previous location.  We managed to get the boxes strapped together.  Then had to pick the entire thing up and place it on the trailer.  This revealed a few extra challenges.  The trailer has two ramps on the back.  We had let the ramps down, but because they are individual ramps, we weren't able to walk up them.  This left us trying to squeeze between them.  While carrying a lot of weight.  In the dark.  Let me mention, my Full-Timer insists I always walk backward when we are moving a large item.  Once we were at the back of the trailer, I can not fully describe the difficulty in stepping up onto the trailer.  In the dark.  With a load of angry bees.  Backward!  

It was crazy hard!

The second hive proved to be harder than the first.  More angry bees.  This is when we learned the bees that do come out of the hive, land on you, and don't go away.  They really don't fly in the dark.  Once they get to you, they're on you.  Crawling all over you.  It was at this moment, I felt something fluttering behind my ear.


This was cause for concern.

I expressed my concern to my Full-Timer.  She ignored me and we continued working.  I then felt the same fluttering and may have started to panic a little.  I grabbed the flashlight.  We stepped away from the bees and I had her take a look.  She wasn't seeing anything.  This resulted in her typical answer.

"I don't see anything.  It's fine."

Which is code for:  Get over it!  We've got things to do and you're freaking out over nothing.

The next time I felt a little something extra happening inside my veil, I had a meltdown.  We stepped away from the bees again and I made her take a more thorough look around.  With the flashlight, she kept looking.  Still insisting it was my imagination.  It was at this very moment I saw a bee walking across my veil.  I stopped my Full-Timer.  Pointed at the bee.  The bee clearly in my line of sight.  I then calmly asked, "Is she on the inside or the outside?"

Full-Timer:  "oh."

She shined the light over all of my equipment.  Then started cracking up laughing.  You see.  I was wearing my bee suit, but using a separate hat and veil.  The hat and veil is equipped with strings that pull down and are then wrapped around you to secure it closely to your body, then tied.  In my haste to get suited up, I had inadvertently tied my equipment across the front of my upper body.  I had tied it across an area that is not so flat.  I'm not going to spell it out for you, but there was a gap left open.  Said gap was allowing the bees free access to walk right in.

How embarrassing!

This was our first, full-on meltdown!  I started putting distance between myself and the bees.  All the while, stripping off my equipment.  Somehow.  Someway.  I did not get stung.  After vigorously shaking out my hat, I took a deep breath and started putting everything back on.

We wrapped up the second split, and moved on to the third.  The third went pretty well, but we were still struggling.  It's not like you can just quit.  Once you start the process, you are committed.  We had new queens delivered.  We had the equipment built.  It's not like you can just stop.  For some unknown reason, we changed our plan of action on the fourth split.  Everything went wrong.  She had been in charge of screens.  Now I was in charge of screens.  It was dark.  I didn't know where the screens were.  As I was yelling and looking around for screens, bees were pouring out of the entrance.  She got stung on the leg moving a box, but somehow managed not to drop the thing.  It was awful.  We just started walking.  We put about thirty yards between us and the mess we had created.  At this moment, my Full-Timer realized the bull was in this pasture.  She had a previous experience with the bull.  You can read about it here! 

We debated the pros and cons of dealing with mad bees or walking right into the back end of an unsuspecting bull.  I would like to tell you we were laughing, but we weren't.  We were more on the verge of crying and throwing our hands up in the air.  At some point, the thought of the bull won the debate.  Plus, we weren't going anywhere without the truck.  We had to go back and finish the job.

We rallied all the fortitude we could muster, and dove back in.  We strapped down the last hive.  Loaded them on the trailer.  Grabbed our gear and jumped in the truck.  We were still fully suited up.  It was hot!  We were still covered in bees.  We were not laughing.  We were not having fun.  We were angry.  Equally angry at them and each other.  As humans, it's in our nature to place blame somewhere.  Right?

I put the truck in drive and we headed out.  Only to realize we had not put the ramps up and we were now dragging them behind us.  There may have been some cuss words spoken at this time.  I threw it in park.  We both jumped out and pulled the ramps up, locking them in place.  Back in the truck, we made the short drive home in silence.  No talking.  No laughing.  No radio.  Just the windows down, hoping some bees would get lost on the way.  All I knew -  I wanted to go home.  I wanted something to drink.  I wanted out of my suit.  I wanted to take a break.

As we pulled into the drive, it was late.  Already about 11:00 pm.  We headed for the garage to strip out of our gear.  Once that was done, we grabbed something to drink and went back to the garage to sit under the fans and cool off.  This was when the Man in Charge came out to check on us.  I don't really know how it happened, but as we started describing the events of the evening, we both started laughing hysterically.  The more we told, the harder we laughed.  I know he was thinking we had lost our minds.  After we wrapped up our tale, he looked at us, and in all seriousness said,

"There is no way, if there ever was, I will ever help you guys do this!"

We laughed even harder.

Check back.  

This is just the beginning of this night.

There is plenty more to this story.

I will leave you with something positive.  One member of our household was absolutely thrilled about the new trailer.  He really thinks I brought it home for him.


  1. This is what you should know: if you're ever approached to star in a reality show about life on the farm say YES! This would have made a brilliant episode! Move on over Duck Dynasty boys - the bee lady is taking over the network!!! That whole thing about the trailer? Hilarious.

    1. You have no idea how true your words are! Check back for the rest of the story.