Don’t get your hopes up—this is not that kind of blog. Does anyone know the origins of that euphemism? I suspect it references bees just for the alliterative and metric qualities of the word. Bees are decidedly undersexed creatures. Up to a million of them living in those boxes, and the queen is the only one who survives her single experience of intercourse. Birds, though—birds get down.
Anyway. I opened my hives for the first time after installing the packages and learned that another bee-related cliche has a lot of truth to it—my bees were extraordinarily busy in the 10 days after being ignominiously dumped into their new home, drawing out 6 of the 10 frames in their home with comb and filling it with brood, pollen, and nectar.
I promptly panicked—every manual I’ve read says it’s time to give your bees more space when they’ve drawn out 7/10 frames, which I expected to happen in a month, not roughly 10 days. Bees with too little space quickly swarm, which means over half the hive leaves with the old queen, leaving very few bees to make honey for me.
So I spent the weekend after their first checkup hurriedly building the next set of boxes and frames to give the girls more space; given that the first round took me several weeks to complete, I think three days is a bit of an improvement.
On the second check-up to put the new boxes on, it was clear the damp weather and my intrusion put the bees off their industriousness, but they seem pretty healthy. Each hive is different. I need to name them instead of thinking of them as “Hive 1/2/3,” but I also want to get to know their personalities better. Hive 1 is the weakest, so far, with the fewest adult bees but the most brood ready to go; Hive 2 is big and bold and gave me my first sting; Hive 3 is right in the middle.
So now I let the bees do their thing for a while, and check back on them in a couple of weeks. The next step is to put honey supers on the hives to collect the sweet stuff!
In the meantime, we got 30 chicks! These babies, when they’re grown up enough, will live cosmopolitan, mobile lives in the chicken tractor, cleaning up old crops and fertilizing the soil. When they’re about 6 months old, they’ll start laying eggs for us. I’ve done my best to stay emotionally distant from the new chickens—which is a feat, because I used to hang out and let Rufus sit on my boot while I played ukulele, and these babies are pretty cute little critters. But they’re livestock, not pets.
And that’s not all. Of course not. The garden continues to grow, and we continue to weed and plant and harvest. My flowers are coming in, and last week I brought a few bouquets to market in addition to the edible flowers. Poppies, dill, cilantro, bienenfreund and calendula are all blooming in a riot, and you can expect to see my odd arrangements at our tent at Western Wake Farmer’s Market through the summer.