“Come on, girl! Put your big boy pants on!!!”
Yes, this really is how I talk to myself. And I needed the “buck it up” talk to get myself to do the previously before un-attempted and much procrastinated.
That is, put on my virgin bee suit and go out and handle my bees!
I’ve been going out there and sweeping out the dead bees from the front of the hive and I have been comfortable with that (at least). But it was well past the time for me to take out the bottom shallow super that the bees have abandoned for the winter. In winter they migrate up to the top two shallow supers and you take out the bottom one and store it away for the winter.
I chose today to do this work because it is cool and drizzly and I was hoping that the bees would be cold-sleepy and want to stay inside the hive at all costs. I mean, what do I know? Based on this assumption I decide to not even try to figure out how to use the hive smoker.
Heart pounding, I suited up and approached the hive. All is quiet. I try to lift all three supers up at one time. It’s too heavy. I try this a few more times and it is a no go. I put my ear to the hive to listen for angry buzzing. Nothing. Good! I’m still nervous as heck.
I then try to lift up the top two supers. Wow! These are really heavy as well! Well, maybe I’ll try and just lift the top one off. Knowing full well that this is where all the bees are probably hanging out. I use the hive tool to pry a corner of the top super up from the super below it.
BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!! BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!
Heart in my throat I put the corner back down. A few bees come out to me. I will have to strong arm the top two supers off and onto the stand. As I start to do this very inelegantly, the bees, they start a comin’.
Well at least I know some of them are alive. I did get the top two supers off and rested on the stand. I had about 50 bees flying around and some of them were pretty P.O.’d. It is freaky to have angrily buzzing bees landing on your hood about 3 inches from your face. I took off the bottom super and scraped all the dead bees and crud off of the bottom board and put the top two supers back on.
Triumphant, I carried the empty super back to the house. I hadn’t gotten stung and some bees were alive in January so all is good! As I took off my jacket a few live and sluggish bees fell out. Note to self – shake out jacket BEFORE coming in the house. As I walk into the laundry room I feel a faint tickling on my leg. Hmmmm, and then I notice that it is slowly working its way up my inner thigh.
No, no, noooooooo! I gently peel off my pants and brush the live bee off my leg. Another note to self – band my pants around my boots. I had tucked them in thinking that would be enough. My confidence has definitely been buoyed in the Bee Handling department after this experience and I’m feeling a bit proud of myself.
Now to Rachel. She is due to lamb between Friday and Monday and I would have to say that this girl is ready. She is bagged up and very big. I can hardly wait!
Taking a baby pool bet here. How many do you think? I’m guessing 4 good sized lambs born on Saturday.