If you follow me on Twitter you know that my parents recently got a beehive.
I’ll give you a few minutes to process that.
Still here? Fantastic. My parents got a beehive. As it turns out, you purchase bees by the pound at the bee warehouse.
My parents bought
3 33 (update! they bought 33 not 3, WHOOPS) pounds of bees. I thought that would equal 3 of the little boxes you can see up there, but as it turns out, this what 33 pounds of bees in the back of your car looks like:
Yes. My Dad drove the bees home. You’d think he’d have called them a cab or paid for Amazon delivery, but no. The man drove the bees home IN HIS CAR.
I bet you are wondering what you do with the bees once you get home. This is what I wondered. Well, waiting at home was an apiary (a beehive) and their friend who is a beekeeper. Now before you get super excited I regret to inform you that apiaries do not look like old fashioned yellow dome shaped hives with little “layers” – nope, they pretty much look like a box. Boring. The beekeeper slowly transferred the 3 pounds of bees into the apiary.
I KNOW. WORST JOB EVER.
Everyone knows the most important part of the hive is the queen bee. She bosses all the other bees around and tells them what to do. You have to buy your queen bee separately and she comes in a little box with a sugar cube plug. The beekeeper puts the box (with the queen) into the hive and then the bees and the queen nibble on the cube from both sides until it is gone. Hopefully when it is gone the bees accept the queen….if not…MUTINY. Or they drive her off and Mom and Dad have to get a new queen. You’ll know the queen has been accepted when the bees start making honeycombs and honey and bringing pollen back to the apiary. Here is the beekeeper putting their queen into the hive:
A few days later Mom snapped a picture of the bees bringing pollen back to the hive. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses, amirite? (I used some fancy Skitch skills to draw fancy hot pink arrows showing the pollen grains just in case you weren’t sure.) This means they accepted the queen bee!
Can you spot the heavy lifters in this photo?
Their beekeeper friend came out a few days letter to check on things. These are baby bees and they have a young queen so they had started forming honeycombs but they weren’t in the trays that are in the hive. Whoops.
The beekeeper said this is ok and he moved things around a little bit. The bees should get the hang of it soon.
Because I think it bears repeating: WORST JOB EVER.
My parents don’t have a full beekeeping suit but they have some gloves and a hat contraption should they need to poke around for any reason. They live in the mountains in Utah which is a great beekeeping region. They don’t call it the beehive state for nothing. They have to pay attention for skunks who will come tap on the hive at night in order to work the bees up so they fly outside the hive as a tasty little snack. Oh and of course they have to watch out for bears.
Yes. Skunks and bears that come try to eat your venomous stinging insects. BEST HOBBY EVER.
(I like to tease my parents about their bees and remind that most people get chickens and call it good.)
As far as why, well, they are good for the environment and it seemed like a fun hobby. (My parents definition of fun is up for debate.) They have a friend who is a beekeeper so they don’t have to do too much of the scary work themselves which I think is a big plus.They don’t have any plans to sell honey, just enjoy it themselves and share with their friends, so it isn’t a business endeavor.
For now they are leaving the bees be. They just have to stay away from their flight pattern and keep their eyes out for predators. This fall they’ll harvest the wax and honey. Mom and I have grand plans of a weekend of candle, soap and lip balm making. We will wear our best pioneer bonnets while doing this. (I lie. Pioneer bonnets would make it hard to drink wine while making candles. Priorities people. Priorities.) They are going to get some signs for the trees near the hive:
Luckily for them the neighbors and the homeowners association are all cool with the bees. The hive is on the back edge of their property where it isn’t landscaped so it isn’t an area where people walk or kids play (there is a steep cliff nearby). The current estimate is that their hive will produce about 5 gallons or 25 pounds of honey this first year. Since I have priorities (shopping) I want to order these tags to put on our honey bottles:
And there you have it. My parents got a beehive. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are. But…I think it is kind of cool too and I’m definitely looking forward to our jars of fresh honey. And yes, if you ask, my parents will totally name one of the bees after you.