Installing our Bees

On Wednesday night, we waited in a north Lawrence parking lot for an hour and a half in the dark cover at night for a mysterious man to drive up with a trailer and begin handing out packages of 13,000 bees. I had wild fantasies that he would roll into the parking lot shouting with Oprah’s frenetic energy, “You get a package of bees! You get a package of bees! You ALL get a package of bees!” Instead, I felt increasingly tired as the darkness settled in, and we continued to wait. I read in the car while Lee mingled with some of the more experienced (and extroverted) beekeepers in the parking lot.

Once we finally had our bees and had settled them carefully in the back of the car, we were excited to head home and go to sleep. The moment we closed the doors to the car, however, the bees’ buzzing seemed like an ominous, deafening roar lurking right behind us—about to unleash an attack—rather than a soothing hum. We eyed each other a bit nervously, and Lee quipped that tonight would be a worse night than usual for a car accident. Upon arriving home, we left the bees to sleep away the night in the garage while we quickly passed out; it was well beyond our bedtime by the time we arrived home.

I spent the next morning continuing to check and recheck the forecast to verify that the rain would indeed finally subside and the sun would emerge to brighten the dreary sky. From what I have read and gathered, introducing bees to their new home in the rain is not recommended, and we’ve not had much weather besides rain for the last couple of weeks. A I pedaled through the puddles and across slick pavement on my way home from work, the sun did indeed lighten the blue sky and peek out from behind the large puffy clouds that were drifting slowly away.

To prepare for installing the bees, I made a sugar-water syrup. I used eight cups of water, and eight cups of sugar (thank you, Costco). I poured some in a spray bottle, and the rest I left in the pan to top off their in-hive feeder, which helps give the bees a strong start. As the syrup cooled, I tried on my new gloves, my hat, and my veil. Even though I felt clumsy behind the large veil and in the cowhide gloves, I was now finally a real (but inexperienced) beekeeper because I had real bees.

I felt surprisingly calm and serene as we headed out with all of our equipment to install our bees in the hive. The bees’ buzzing sounded more like languid contentment now, especially as I doused them with sugar syrup. I removed the queen, and more and more bees left the package and flew around me. As I poured the bees into their hive, I felt confident and as if I were another me, a carefree dream me. My whole chaotic world in that moment faded away as I focused on this microcosm of life and its simple task: stopping to smell the roses.

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