Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If you build it, they will maybe show up and fill it with honey.

Because I'm apparently working hard on my reputation as the neighborhood freak, I went out on Saturday and got my beehive.

No. That's not my hive. That's the President's hive and the photo was taken by "Chantal Foster, a 30-something web architect living in Albuquerque, NM." according to her blog. Thanks, Chantal! I like to fantasize about my own hive being so lovely and situated beneath such a nice tree! Because that in no way represents reality!

Right now my hive looks like this:

Yes, friends, that is a disassembled hive. To be specific, it's two disassembled brood boxes, honey super, lid and base plus 30 assembled frames and then some things that don't need assembling (THANK GOD) like the queen excluder and mouse gate. 

Don't know what the hell I'm talking about? Don't worry, you will. If you keep up with me through this process anyway. Don't know why I'm making such a big deal about assembled versus disassembled?

Let me explain.

See, I went over to my local beekeeping supply shop this weekend, which is really just a lovely older gentleman's garage, and had myself a little personal meltdown.

My plan had been to show up, point to an assembled but not painted hive, say "I'll take that one there, please." and walk out with the thing on a hand truck or something so I could go home and feel like a big man while I painted it all by myself yay!

Except that was not the case. As in so many other situations where you think there is just one product available but then come to find out there are a million variations on that product about which you suddenly have to know, care and make decisions. Much like buying our refrigerator, I didn't know that there were so many KINDS of refrigerators. 

I thought I could walk into Sears or Lowe's or whatever and just point to the one fridge on the floor and say, "I'll take that one there, please." and then walk out with the thing on a hand truck or something and then it turned into half a day of Bubba and me deciding whether we *really needed* an extra deli drawer or a shelf fit for party platters or a built in soda can rack and sub zero this and crisper that until I nearly shot myself right there in the store with a gun from the Outdoors department to end the pain and misery.

It was very dramatic and the Sears people didn't help matters with their I Will Have To Check With My Manager-ness on everything. Those people...but I won't get into that. You already know.

Well, this going to buy my beehive finally and after a long time of hemming and hawing was similar, but mostly only in the Holy Shit What Have I Gotten Myself Into way and without all the fantasizing about murdering an entire Sears sales staff. And obviously we weren't dealing with options like deli drawers. But OH there were options.

What the very nice elder statesman explained to me was that I could get a pre-built hive with brood boxes and honey supers and the frames all tucked inside and ready Freddy to go...this is when I nearly clapped my hands together and said, "Fantastic! I'll take it!"...but oh it's a lot more expensive than just building the boxes yourself. 


I was suddenly a little self-conscious about how much I was willing to spend on this thing and how much cash I'd brought into this man's garage. And I really didn't want to seem like the wussy girl that was all, "Oh, but I don't want to build things with scary hammers and wood glue" or the lazy girl that was all, "Oh but I just wanted to buy it ready built so I could go home and feel like a big man while I painted it all by myself yay!"

So, of course, I gave him the old, "Oh yeah, totally. I can build things. All that pre-built stuff is for pansies." and what not. 

Until he started stacking up all the rubber-banded parts and pieces that were going to, in theory, be constructed by my wussy girl hands into something resembling a bee hive.

Um, people, the pile was HUGE, and it grew minute to minute. 

I'll admit that when he announced that the pile I was looking at only took care of one brood box and its frames, I hit the brakes.

"Um, maybe I'll build the boxes but not the frames? What do you think?"

He didn't say it outright, but I believe the man was relieved to the tenth power. Because hauling out the stuff for one box worth of materials was nearly his final act. 

Dude's old, is what I'm getting at. And I didn't savor the thought that I was going to send him over the edge with my vain attempt at acting like a big man in his garage store. Because I'm not a big man, first of all, and because I'm of all things, lazy.

He was so nice, Mr. Beekeeper For Fifty Years, and helped me put together the parts for the boxes, lid and base ONLY and then gathered together 20 PRE-BUILT BY HIM brood frames and 10 honey frames and all the other little things I asked for.

And then I gave him every last dime I had in my wallet (seriously, thank gawd I didn't try to get the pre-built hive because I would have had to go to the ATM fo sho) and he helped me out with the boxes of Future Hive. He did, however, offer the service of a hand truck, but I declined because it didn't seem necessary given I wasn't at Sears buying a fridge. 

So. That's the explanation for why I have parts and pieces of a yet-to-be-painted beehive in my garage. Because I didn't want to seem like a wussy hammer-fearful girl OR a lazy ass, so I went with the happy medium: build the boxes myself and slide in the ready-made frames built by Mr. Beekeeper for a buck a piece.

Seems like a fair deal.

And wouldn't you know that when I was clearing off a big shelf near the potting bench for all my hive stuff, a bee ventured into the garage for the first time ever (seriously, never see one in there before) and flew right up to the frame I was holding and started picking around the cells like he wanted to move in and drop off some honey.

I'm not going to lie, I told him to come back in April and I'd have a room saved for him. And then I told Bubba that maybe, if I did a really good job building and painting the hive, a swarm would just show up and move into the hive without me having to buy package bees.
And then Bubba looked at me like he suddenly realized while all the neighbors regarded the way they did.

We'll see.


  1. Bees are scary. And honey taste better coming out of a plastic bear.

  2. Finny, you are hilarious. I am so excited for your bees, and honestly felt really dumb when I saw the President's bee hive and thought it was yours. Why? Oh because I got chickens and need to build a coop, and have no idea how to do it!

    You'd be surprised how similar my feeling are about building a coop are to your building a bee hive... THANK YOU for making me feel better, and you should be thankful that you don't have to go figure out saws and go to home depot and figure out how to rip a 2x4? Oof.

  3. Never underestimate the power of clamps. Clamps make every woodworking project a million times better. You may want spring clamps, C clamps, F-clamps, or band clamps (at the very least). FYI, apparently Home Depot has a lovely set of Irwin clamps on sale in their "gift" section right now. Those quick-grip clamps are somethin' else, I tell ya.

    Good luck!

  4. may have officially gone over the edge! You crack me up. We had a beehive once upon a time when we were young and ambitious and lived out in the country. Our bees were happy and having a fun time and then one day the neighbor boy came running over and the bees had left the hive and swarmed in their tree. A few months later the pest control guy who lived behind us (and upwind) decided to help out the neighborhood and fog for mosquitoes. That ended what was left of our bees. I'm going to assume they don't fog your neighborhoods out there for mosquitoes? In spite of all that -- have a great time -- they can be super fun!

  5. So fun! I can't wait to see it all put together. And I think this is a perfect project for Bubba to help with since he won't be able to go within a hundred yards of the hive once it's all full of bees. Unless it's in poor taste to ask someone to help build something that will house hundreds of things that he is deathly allergic too. Hmmm, I'm not sure the etiquette for that situation.

    Good luck either way.

  6. Also, now I'm picturing a bunch of little bees appearing from your garden, wearing baseball gloves ready to play catch.

    I don't think I got enough sleep last night.

  7. I love building all the frames- drove my neighbors nuts with all the hammering. You can do it & it will all be worth it when you get that honey. Promise!

  8. Just watch out for your thumb and that hammer. Not that I would know anything about smashing the shit out of your thumb with a hammer. Ahem.

  9. How great! Watching the process from assembly to honey will be a blast as only you can provide.
    thanks for adding yet another feature to the independent neighbor in the city.

  10. They sell guns in your outdoors department?

  11. Can't wait to hear how it goes so I can convince my husband that we can do it here too!


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