Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Adventures All The Time

Last night was the bee meeting. It's a pretty loose affair, or as my power-mad self sometimes thinks, a ridiculous mess. Anyhow, there are many nice things going on. One of which is that I knit because the chaotic nature of the meeting makes me crazy. Imagine the raglan about an inch longer than the last picture. Got it? Okay.

Well, the swarm that had had rocks thrown at it seemed to not have a queen the last time I checked. Probably the suburban delinquents had gotten her. So at the meeting, I asked one or two other keepers about a place to order a queen from. Later in the meeting, a member said, "I had two queens hatch out and I only need one. Anyone need a queen?"

I raised my hand. So she reaches into her shirt pocket and draws out a small cardboard box -- maybe the size little tiny firecrackers come in -- bigger than a matchbox, but not much, and says, "Here." Heeee.

I couldn't keep her alive overnight because the temperatures were (thank the Lord) going to drop. I had to hive her that night. The hive is at my sister's house in the opposite direction from home from the bee meeting. I didn't have any clothes with me because I'd borrowed my spouse's non-beemobile car. It was 10:00. My sister was out; my brother in law wasn't answering the phone because he was either getting the boys to bed or asleep. Still, the bees command.

I talked to my sister and she told me how to sneak into the yard. All the way there, I held the box against my skin so the queen wouldn't die. It's hard to focus on your driving when you're thinking about a queen in a box.

Once there, I suited up (bees don't like being messed with at night) and crept into the yard. Right past the bedroom where my brother in law was reading. So I said, "Hi! It's me. Just putting a queen in the hive!" He cracked up.

So I did. Up the rickety ladder to the top of the shed, lifted the hive cover, irritated noises from the bees, loosened the box a little, and just hung it between the bars. Hopefully they'll feed her and chew her free. Then, because she's a virgin, just-hatched queen, she'll learn to fly near the hive, get the lay of the land, and take a mating flight. If all goes well, she'll go back to what will by then be home and lay lots of eggs and make the hive queenright.

And at 6:00 this morning, the swarm I'd started gathering yesterday was all snug in the box. I just drove up, wrapped it in a sheet, and took off. That's why I prefer morning. Yesterday when I started with them, I was, as Eddie Izzard says, "Covered in bees!" They didn't like being brushed off that branch into the box at all. And it was quite hot, and they were all over, and the kids were locked in the car that I was using as a ladder waiting to go to the lake and they were quite hot too.

This morning was much more civilized. If you ignore getting up at 5:30. Plus, the road had spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, which was, in addition to the bees, worth the price of admission. I sang all the way home.

After getting the children up and fed, assembling all of my needs in the car, we headed out to the new bees' home.
First I did the drill: "What do you if a bee gets out while we're driving?"
"We tell you."
"Do you scream?"
"What do I do?"
"Roll down the window."
"And the bee?"
"Flies out the window."
"Good. Off we go."

Set up the hive, opened the box, dumped them in the hive, and -- bees everywhere!

Folks in the suits are the homeowners. They're going to board the bees for me.

Soon they settled down in the hive quite nicely and even found a nice bed of lavender.

After we did some schoolwork, I found a bit of time to spin. Unfortunately, Thing 4 declined her nap, so it was "spinning" punctuated with "Please don't touch that. Please!" Maybe I'm getting better. Maybe not.

Well, honeycomb takes time for the bees, so I expect yarn will take time for me.


amanda j said...

You have been as a busy as the proverbial! Spinning, I believe, can be relaxing. Not for me, not yet anyway!! Maybe I should try classes, I am muddling away on my own.

You must have good inlaws! I had a snicker at the thought of you sneaking about with a queen in a box!

Alisha said...

Your spinning looks great!

Jennus Interruptus said...

Your spinning is awesome! See, it's not that hard, is it? Still living vicariously through you re: the bee tales. One day! However, the other day Mr Jen and I went for a stroll and I communed with my first bumblebee of the year. Spring moves so slowly in Northern Alberta...

Katherine said...

Oh my god. So many funny things! But your power-mad self with a bee in a box taking the non-beemobile (which, of course, has a bee suit in it) to deliver a virgin queen to the top of a shed! I am so laughing.

Oh, and "Covered in bees!" : )

Rain said...

Love the bee drill. I'm such a wuss when it comes to that sort of thing.

meg said...

You have the children well trained- I love the little drill :)
The tale of the Virgin Queen is a hoot! Though I'm glad to hear that they seem to be settling in to the new digs.
Your spinning looks awfully good to me- I think you are being hard on yourself.
Enjoy the lovely weather for Mother's Day- we're looking at 83 & sunny; may drop by an antique quilt exhibit in Pleasanton.

allisonmariecat said...

Is Queen in a box like Prince Albert in a can?
Okay, that was a dumb joke, but I shall blame it on sleep deprivation. It's nice to hear the bee update.