It has proven to be an intellectually stimulating and exciting diversion from chasing around a toddler, hanging laundry, and cooking meals. The more I've studied, the more intrigued and excited I've become. The science of honey bees is fascinating, and I've been reminded why I was a science major in college. Every time I get home from a class or a meeting I spend the rest of the evening regaling Paul with random facts about bee behavior. For example, the queen bee leaves the hive once in her lifetime when she mates with several males in mid-air. Then she returns to the hive to lay approximately 1,000 eggs a day, every day, for the rest of her life until she dies, gets displaced in the hive by a younger queen, or gets eaten by said younger queen.
I've been having many nighttime dreams about bees, and have been wringing my hands about where and how I wanted to procure the bees to fill our two hives. Finally, yesterday I got a call from a veteran beekeeper that I could come to catch a swarm with him. It was an exciting afternoon as we had to capture the swarm that was 25 feet high in a tree. The end result was that my neighbors and I drove home from Berkeley with somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 bees in my trunk. Today as Paul, Madeleine, and I checked on the hive several times, we witnessed hundreds of bees taking their inaugural flights around Dell's backyard as they got their bearings around their new home.
It's a little tricky to make out, but the first photo shows the swarm of bees clinging to a tree limb 25 feet up in the tree. To capture them we attached a painter's bucket with metal hinges to a long pole, raised the bucket to just beneath the swarm, gave it a sharp jab, and all the bees fell into the bucket. Then we literally poured the thousands of bees into my waiting hive on the ground. At dusk, when all the remaining bees found their way into the hive, we closed it up and popped it in the trunk for the ride home. Dell and his wife Pat decided that to celebrate we should stop for a drink on the way home. Before going into the bar and after coming out, we opened the trunk to let the bees get some fresh air. They survived their trip just fine, no worse for the celebratory stopover.