Today is my mother's birthday. You would think after so many years I would have gotten a card in the mail on my birthday to make it to her house five days later, but no. So, happy birthday again, mom. You're the best.
Thank you everyone for your nice words. I apparently either have a high pain threshold, or bee stings don't hurt as much as I remember them doing. I realized that my Benadryl threshold is still quite low, as I fell asleep in the bath after taking two of them. I was trying to counteract any swelling, but my jaw is still puffy and I'd rather be puffy than dead, so I won't be doing that again!
This morning, just my spouse and I made the trek to check on the bees at the swarmed house. One advantage to slightly older children and their older friends is that I can run errands without worrying about the kids. This house -- how I wish I'd brought my camera. It was in a very very nice part of town, and these people have more money than I, or anyone I actually know, does. Anyhow, they also had a low-hanging swarm of bees.
When we got there, the bee box was covered on one side with a pile of bees, with two more fist-size clumps in the tree, and one little bunch on the light the homeowners had brought out to help last night. Most of the bees, though, were in the box. That was the first good thing. The second one was that I had brought a hooded sweatshirt to put on over my helmet, trying to prevent any more incursions. I'd also brought a better spray bottle of sugar water to help calm them -- the one from last night was a little "spitty."
So I sprayed the bees, and used a paintbrush (I also have a "bee brush" on order, along with a better suit and a zip-down hood/veil) to kind of push them up into the box. If I went slowly enough, they just sort of got the hint and moved in. Spouse cut the little twigs the two clumps were on, and I carried them down to the box and nudged them in. Same with the group on the light.
Then we tried to gather some off of the groundsheet, which is a pink-striped bedsheet I got from my grandmother's estate. I like to think of her when I spread it at the beach or under a swarm of bees. . . but gathering the bees didn't work so well. I ended up just brushing off the stragglers and shaking the sheet and myself off on the way to the car.
We covered the box (again, pictures later), and made certain there weren't any bees on the outside. The homeowners said wistfully, "Maybe we'll get some honey?" That's usually the polite thing to do, so I will give them some soon. Some beekeepers charge for removal, but there was still a fist-sized lump of stragglers in the tree, and I told them to not walk barefoot for a day or two -- I don't know how professional they thought I was. Not yet enough to charge, plus I was pretty excited about getting the bees anyhow.
In the car, my husband said, "I don't want them getting out on the way home." I pointed out a knothole, but he said it didn't go all the way through the box. And yet, when we were almost home, a bee flew forward into the dash area. I coaxed it outside, and didn't see any more, so I figured we were okay. Moved the swarm box back by the new hive, and ran to get the kids ready for church.
Afterwards, I went out to check them and they were clumped on the outside of the box. How? Well, that knothole did now go all the way through. I don't know if it had before. . . I was suited up, and started to move them into their new hive. I'm using a different hive system than before, with top bars instead of frames, and it was terrific to see that as I was pulling the bars from the swarm box, the bees were already chained together in the characteristic u-shape that the comb would take in the future.
They weren't thrilled about being moved again. They were even less happy when I went and got the old hive and started dumping those bees into the new one. I figured now was the time, when they were so discombobulated, to try to mix the two together since there was only one queen.
I think that's when I got stung. Somehow a couple of bees got up inside my jacket again and stung my side. Since I couldn't get to them, I just crushed my jacket against me, trying to rub out the stingers. I think that's when the second one decided to sting. Again, the smell made the bees kind of agitated, so I headed for the front yard. Some bees were stuck in between my veil and the sweatshirt hood, making that unmistakable "pinched bee" high whine. The adrenaline from the stings plus the noise they were making was pretty upsetting.
I yelled for help, and Eric came out and tried to get them off, but there were a few determined bees that kept coming back as I brushed them off. After walking halfway up and halfway down the block, I got all of them off and he helped me get the sweatshirt/veil combination off without more stings. The bees were flying in big loops above the coop and around the yard. I hoped they were just trying to get the lay of the land, but I wasn't going to go out there and talk to them about it.
Then I cleaned the house and went to my brother in law's birthday party. All during the end of the party, I was worrying that the bees would have swarmed away, that they would have reoccupied the hive I tried to empty into the new one, because it still has frames of honey, or that they would still be highly aggressive when I got home. Since the hive is right by the gate to the chicken coop, that would be very bad.
But they had all calmed right down. I nudged one bar over as far as I could, and put the top on. I'll have to get in there and move one of the bars around, but it can be left for a week or two. Enough time maybe for them to orient themselves and start drawing comb, but more importantly, enough time for my new gear to show up.
14 hours ago