Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bees in a box

Hint: it's not shaped like a pineapple.

So, I know I promised you a new queen bee strutting around in a bikini laying thousands of eggs after her flight over from the Hawaiian Islands, but I'm afraid that absurd fantasy is not to be.

Firstly - there are only a few Hawaiian bee yards that rear queens and of those bee yards, one is sold out until June and one requires a minimum purchase of 25 queens.

Um, I'm not trying to repopulate the Castro, I'm just trying to get my beehive running again.


Worse news than that was that mated queens are just non-existent in the continental US this early in the year because they're still rearing up for shipping in April.

So, no queen in my hive, no single queens in Hawaii, no queens on the mainland.

What to do besides freak out and cry?

Call my friend Steve, of course.

Do not even tell me that you don't remember Steve.

Steve who saved my effing bacon when I lost my first queen when installing my first colony by talking me through The Rapture I'd brought upon our home and yard?

Yeah, you remember Steve.

FYI: New beekeepers of the world - get yourself a Steve. They're the best and always help and sometimes help at really inconvenient times but are always so super awesome and accept tomato seedlings in exchange for brood frames (frames with babies in them) that you should cultivate this friendship with all your might.

So, I emailed Steve. I told him the woeful story of how I'd bonked the supersedure cell while I was checking the hive and how there weren't many babies left in the hive and no eggs and no queen in the whole wide world and uh oh.

To which he said, "Let me check my hives for a queen cell and I'll give it to you."

Oh really now? Your awesomeness continues a year later when I'm back asking for more help?


Unfortunately, none of his hives had queen cells, but he did have a nuc frame full of babies at various stages of growth, so he packaged it up with some attendants in a styro cooler to keep them warm and set them out in front of his house to pick up within the hour.

Which, of course, was at 2pm on a weekday which meant that yours truly was at the office and getting ready to go to a meeting.

Um, crap.


To make a long story short, I'm now the weirdest person that all of my coworkers know. I'm probably also on the bubble with my manager because I had to pull the, "I have a hard stop at 4pm and MUST leave." thing when our meeting started, which is never the way to get into the good graces with people.

I also had to bribe my carpool buddy to leave work early, too, because I NEED TO GET HOME FOR A BEE EMERGENCY.

We're ready to rumble.

Thankfully, she is well versed in not only my weirdness, but also my beekeepingness.

Bless all of these forgiving and only-judging-me-behind-my-back souls.

So, after racing down the peninsula to Steve's house, gathering up the cooler from his front yard, transporting it to my house in the backseat of my friend's car (thankfully none escaped - that would have been DONEZO for our future carpooling) and smoking out my own hive - I've now managed to install the frame of babies into the hive with all my girls and HOPEFULLY they're in there making a new queen right now.

See that bit of comb between the 4th and 5th frame there? That's the smushed queen cell. Sad.

I even plopped on a fresh new feeder of syrup this morning, so they'll be well fed and won't even have to leave the house to get started on this queen.

You gotta love a queen carrier made from an old cooler.

Which is what I'm assured they'll do. Assured by Steve. Knower of bees, fixer of bees.

That's the frame I removed in order to put in the Baby Frame. EVERYONE - GET IN THE HIVE.

And in return for this enormous, if not ill-timed, beehive saving act - all he asks is that I let him know how it's going when I check it in 10 days and, hey, if I end up with a Pink Brandywine tomato seedling from my massive seed sowing fest, he'd sure like one.

Only one?

Oh, and if I have a few vegetables lying about this summer, he'd love whatever I've got.

See? Get yourself a Steve, beekeepers. They're the best.


  1. Sounds like a great trade :)

  2. Um, I'm not trying to repopulate the Castro, I'm just trying to get my beehive running again.


    I've considered beekeeping a few times over the years, but have thus far stuck with chicken-keeping. Fortunately, I have friends in a nearby town who keep bees and sell the honey. Folks like them (and you!) do so much to keep agriculture lively and varied; bees mean everything to our food production system.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.