Monday, June 17, 2013

Bad Mood Bees

Whenever someone asks me how my summer vacation is going, I'm not sure how to answer. In a lot of ways, I'm past the age of months-long vacations. Yes, life is slower right now, and that is a welcome change. But I'm still working multiple jobs. I'm still writing (almost) every day. Nathan is in school, so our days and weekends are still ruled by classes and studying for tests. I guess the main difference is that I'm reading more books, spending more time at the YMCA, and it's hot outside. Vacation it's not, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been it's own kind of wonderful. 

Pool side BBQ. Okay, so we've had *some* relaxing times.

And it's about to get even better! While the first half of summer was productive and rooted in routine, the next few weeks are going to be anything but. Tomorrow I will disappear again, this time for five days, because I'm working as a sort of "camp counselor" at UNCW's annual Young Writers Workshop. Five straight days of living on campus with a bunch of high school kids, leading them through writing workshops, lectures, and a public reading, eating with them in the cafeteria, sleeping in the dorms (I get my own room, thank god), and keeping them out of trouble. I'm excited and a little bit terrified. I've also never been to sleep-away camp before, so that alone will be an interesting experience. Of course, I'll let y'all know how it goes. 

The week after camp ends, Amy and David are coming from Texas to visit for a few days (!!! so excited I can barely stand it !!!), at the end of July I'm going to Oregon to see another dear friend, my sister and her friend are coming to Wilmington for a weekend at the beginning of August, and I'm trying to squeeze in a trip to Long Island to see my mom before school starts. I told you things were about to get crazy. 

But first, and always, we have to take care of things at home, and that is my awkward transition to yesterday's adventure with the bees. We had to move them to a new spot in the yard about two weeks ago (more about that some other time) and they seem to have settled in nicely. Yesterday, we planned to open the hives, inspect the frames (checking for baby bees, AKA brood, monitoring pests, and giving them more space as needed). We lit up the smoker, but then we took a long time putting on our suits, moving a table closer to the hive, having another cup of coffee, etc. All the while, smoke was clouding the entrance of the hive and hanging thick in the air. 

By the time we actually opened the hive, the bees were already pissed, dive bombing our mosquito-netted faces and asking us, clearly, to leave. We stepped back, gave them (and us) a few minutes to calm down, then tried again. Same thing. We weren't getting in the hive, that was obvious, but still wanted to add the super (a smaller box of frames) so that the bees would have the space they needed. Even without getting in the hive, we could see their numbers were much higher than they were a month ago, which is great. Best of all is that, between the two of us, we were able to get the super on without getting stung. Nathan lifted the lid, I put the super on top of the tower, and then he slid the lid back in place. And then we walked away, very slowly, while the bees followed and then, finally, gave up and went home. Whew. 

We're going to try again next week, when I'm back from camp, this time with less smoke and - hopefully - better luck. Until then, I'm glad we got the super on, and that the bees will have the space they need to grow and expand. 


  1. Wow. You guys are brave! What an adventure. I don't know if I could raise bees! :) Have a lovely day!
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  2. Sounds like you are going to have some lovely visits with friends. :) Bees scare me. Eek!

  3. We are planning to get two hives next spring. I am so nervous about getting stung! I guess once in a while won't be too bad, but I hear some people get stung several times while trying to do just one chore with the hives! Have some good times on your trips. Vickie

    1. Wearing the protection is key, and we learned that the hard way. We can't afford real bee suits so we get by with Tyvek paintsuits and mosquite netting draped over a wide brimmed hat, the ends tucked into our clothing. So far, it's worked just fine!

  4. I was just up at Spikenard Bee Sanctuary and one of the more interesting things Gunther talked about was listening to the bees (he never wears protection and rarely gets stung). I have a whole new respect for honeybees after watching him work with the hives some. Incredible. Glad you guys are going to wait a few days to see how the bees feel next week!

  5. Yay for Super Fun Summer Plans! You've got a great agenda ahead of you. And I'm looking forward to hearing more about your experience with the Young Writers Workshop--that sounds really cool and like a wonderful teaching experience for you.