10/6/09

New Beekeeper tells all

Backwards Beekeeper Jules writes:

We’ve had bees for years. Several years ago I noticed a steady stream of bees going in and out of a narrow crack in between our side and back fence walls.

It was an unused area of yard until my husband put in a small waterfall fountain. That was so lovely I put out some chaise lounges and suddenly it was my corner paradise, with a great view of bees coming and going and the relaxing sounds of the steady trickle of the water.

My two eldest sons have big ambitions. They decided one day that we really needed to get the bees out of the wall so we could harvest honey. They would be the Bee Brothers and they would make honey barbecue sauce and honey mustard potato chips and honey infused shampoo and use that natural local honey as a homeopathic allergy cure. “PUH-LEEEEEEASE MOM! Can we? Can we?”

Could we? It’s not a cheap hobby to start up what with boxes and gear but we already had a functioning hive in the wall. I promised them when their younger brother turned 4 I would think about it. I was sure they would forget. They didn’t. “PLEASE MOM, HE’S 4 NOW!” Okay, okay, okay. I found the Backwards Beekeepers site, got Kirk’s info and dropped him an email.

Kirk said he could do a trap out any time. But before I committed to taking that leap I had a lot of reading to do. I read like a freak, got the supplies on hand and called up Kirk for the trap out.

In my reading I found that in my neck of the woods it is unfortunately against city ordinance to have bees in a yard. Since they are located in a corner of the yard that meets 3 other yards with trees and thick vines at all corners I wasn’t horribly concerned with getting turned in by neighbors—heck, the bees have actually lived there longer than two of their families. My long-time next door neighbor is very supportive (he actually wants his own hive) and theirs is the only yard with any bee traffic flow. I popped an email to the BB group about what to do when it’s not allowed where you live and my fave piece of advice was “bee low profile”. The day Kirk came I felt oddly giddy. In my 42 years of life, this was my first true act of civil disobedience. The world needs bees and last I checked my city was in the world. I’ll claim ignorance when they take me away in shackles.

I watched and filmed and shot pics as Kirk filled the crack in the wall except a small escape, then affixed a one-way escape to the hole.


He then expertly balanced my deep and shallow supers to make a stand for the nuc box directly in front of the escape hatch.


It looked kind of wonky but it was exactly what they needed.


I went to my first bee meeting that weekend and though my youngest son couldn’t sit through it all I felt that knowledge and experience everyone shared was invaluable.

Over the next few weeks I watched the hive trap-out progress, enthralled by how they just naturally took to the tiny nuc box as their new home. After a while at night it grew thick with bearding bees—due in part to the 100 degree+ weather and also to their crowding.


A plumbing emergency happened a couple weeks back and as part of the final inspection a city worker had to come check all the work—including a new clean out in the back yard. I stealthily constructed a fence using trellis sections affixed to a dark bamboo curtain and set-dressed the scene to make it look like it had been there for years on the off chance the guy would see the box set-up and bust me before I began. It worked (and it also will shield people from seeing it for years to come and keep their flight pattern away from the yard, too.




Thanks for the story, Jules!

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