I think I just became a beekeeper today thanks to Kirk. I feel giddy and my heart feels warm and fuzzy. I caught "bee fever" a week ago. I didn't learn about this in medical school but it's serious and needs immediate treatment. I read about improved pollination of fruit trees with bees (I have about 30 new trees in my backyard orchard) and wanted some of these little workers. I bought a hive, veil, gloves and smoker at LA Honey last week and went to my first Backwards Beekeeping meeting at Farmlab last weekend. It was fun to see so many people who also had the fever (maybe it's harmless).
I wasn't sure if I was ready but thought I should get as much experience as possible first. Luckily Kirk had a "doozie" of a cut out today and he invited me along. I admit I was nervous. I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't even used any of my gear yet (that's the reason I didn't know I had two right sided gloves and that I had already lost my smoker!).
When I got to the Pasadena home, Kirk and Deborah had already tied in the comb and put alot of bees into the new hive. The bees were all over the hive, slowly crawling in and flying all over. I could feel a little breeze when one flew next to my head. The old bay window had been home to the 70,000 bees for 5 years per the homeowner, Robin. The window had fallen over so there were bees on the ground and up at the top of the window.
After sweeping in as many possible, the hive was left next to the window to allow them time to enter the hive. Robin wanted to keep the bees and luckily, so did his neighbor. His neighbor, her young girls and their friends watched the whole event excitedly through their window. They ooed, awed and squealed at times as the bees were swept up. He gave bee lessons to them as he worked. They had great questions and were eager to learn. Kirk saved some honey comb dripping with fresh honey for them to eat later for a special treat.
Now I didn't mention that as soon as I got to the cut out, Kirk said he had a surprise for me. He knew of a swarm in Silver Lake and had his nuc. They were mine if I wanted them! “Ummmm.....sure!” To be honest, I was thinking "ooo, this is happening so fast, what am I getting into?"
After the cut out we went to catch the swarm. The owner pointed out the two balls of bees. They were so cute. One was a small softball size up in a bougainvilla hedge and the other a baseball size on the ground. Maybe there were two queens. The swarms looked very round, soft and wonderful. Kirk gently placed the swarm attached to a twig on top of the frames and the bees just crawled into the nuc. So easy! I scooped up the ones that were left on the ground and in a few seconds they were in too. With a few shakes by Kirk the other swarm was in the nuc.
The nuc was taped up and I held the humming box with a sudden sense of pride and well being. It was a bit strange. I was smiling like a fool. Kirk took a picture as I cradled the nuc like a baby. It took all my will power to stop listening to their buzzing tonight. I hope they like their new home.