The Good Life – Bee Careful

14 02 2011

I live in a semi rural location. Enough out of a town to feel like the country, but close enough to civilization without feeling isolated. Last year me & Steph (well mostly me) began to get into self sufficiency, albeit in a kind of half-arsed way. Not because I am particulary ideological about the ‘supermarket lifestyle’ we tend to live, probably more because I am a tight arse !!

Over the coming days I will “showcase” some of the crap that I have got myself involved with to attain the “Self-Sufficient” title !

Part One – Bee Careful

Last years efforts saw me throw myself headfirst into little projects. I have always wanted to keep honey bees and have chickens. God alone knows why, but there you go. I got plans for building a bee hive from a wonderful site called The Barefoot BeeKeeper. The chap who runs it is promoting “natural” beekeeping methods, which are quite different from the traditional methods. Anyways I digress..

So, I constructed a top bar hive that looked akin to Noah’s Ark. Next on the shopping list were some bees ! Now bees don’t come cheap at all, and you are looking at around £200 for a queen and hive. So I opted for the free approach…collect a swarm of bees from a local pest controller. About six weeks later, I get a call on a warm Saturday afternoon. A swarm had settled about three miles from home, and was easily collectable. So I frantically ran around getting my gear together and hopped in the car.

I arrived to see a crowd of people awaiting my arrival. I tried to look professional, and not at all like I was thinking “SHIT SHIT SHIT“. One salient point that I have not mentioned. Up until this point, I had not even been near bees, apart from one buzzing past me in the summer. I was comically dressed in a white CSI type suit, and a mesh hat.

The bees were in a massive clump at the base of a bush, and the air was full of them. Speaking to more informed keepers, they guessed around 15000 bees. My heart was in my mouth as I approached the swarm, and I thought best about how to place them into huge plant pot that I had brought for transport. As you are aware, bees buzz. Now imagine around 15000 of them buzzing all around you. The buzz was so intense you could feel it in your bones. My crowd of onlookers had now retired to the safety of indoors (thanks) but did manage to say “Rather you than me mate”.

I placed the pot underneath them and either in  fit of bravery or stupidity (latter probably) whacked the branch containing the swarm against the pot. The swarm poured into the pot just like treacle. It seemed fairly easy I thought but the noise was unholy. I placed wooden bars on top of the pot but left holes for the several thousand little bastards that were still buzzing around me. I was elated, and felt like I had just defused a 500lb IED !

I left the plant pot and it’s super angry contents alone for several hours and returned. Ok, quick sanity check. I have a plant pot full of pissed off bees, and now I have to get them into my car and drive home. I could see how poorly executed my plans had been. So I had to wrap bungy cord about my “bee-bomb”, and then place said item into a box. The box was heavily sealed with yellow and black hazard tape (strangely ironic) and placed in the rear of my car.

The drive back was uneventful if not nerve racking. As I turned into my drive, the hive stood in the garden awaiting it’s new occupants. I faced the reverse problem now, but my confidence had grown (or stupidity again) ! I donned my CSI suit again, and began to open the box. They had calmed down a bit now, perhaps it was my soothing choice of in car entertainment ?

I opened the lid of the hive, and simply poured the bees in from the pot. They were definately more subdued this time thankfully !

Several months on, I’ve taken a small amount of honey from them. They’ve also survived one of the coldest winters I can remember .

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I’ve never constructed something from scratch, and doing this gave me a real sense of achievement.

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One response

14 02 2011
Tiny Temper

Wow! What a great achievement, you brave, foolish man!

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