I admit I was naïve about beekeeping. My intentions were good. Get some hives, do my part to save our agricultural future, and harvest some honey in the process. On top of being naïve about the amount of knowledge needed, I certainly didn’t expect to feel genuine concern for the little creatures. After all, it’s not like having a dog. I didn’t give them names like the neighbor does with her chickens and sheep. Hive #1 and Hive #2 is certainly sufficient.
To start from the beginning, I set up the hives about 4 weeks ago with two colonies. Since then, I’ve mixed up their bottles (jars of sugar water), monitored their flight paths, observed the pollen on their back quarters, and studied up on mites and beetles. I waited for them to acclimate to their new homes before pulling off the roof to check what was happening. The truth is I put it off until I felt I had watched enough YouTube videos. I know nothin’ about conducting a beehive inspection. Seriously, I’m still trying to figure out the difference in brood, burr comb, and honey. Not mentioning how to keep a smoker smoking.
After deciphering a little information from each of the 5,000 videos on the subject, I hoped I knew enough to crack the lid. I took notebook and pen, pretending that I would actually know enough to write something down. After a little smoke in the first hive, I took off the lid. There seemed to be thousands of bees, but then I spotted the white larvae. I felt panic. Is that a baby bee? Is that a worm? What is that? I put the lid back in place, took off my gloves, and scribbled in my notebook…I NEED A BEE MENTOR!
I went back to the house, shot off an email to a fellow bee association member, and called up YouTube. The white stuff is wax moth. Wax moths set up camp in the empty real estate in the hive if there aren’t enough bees to protect the space. So, after some advice and two or three videos, I suited up, went back to tackle the intruders, and do some frame shifting. The bees weren’t excited to see me again, but I told them it was for their own good.
I knew Hive #1 and Hive#2 wouldn’t be glad to see me a third time, but I went to inspect the work the next day. The bees seemed happy, undisturbed by my presence (other than one overzealous guard bee), and buzzing with work. As I placed the frames back in line, fanned to keep from squishing, admired their little wings and cuteness, protected my babies, I realized….. I just fell in love. I felt the weight of responsibility for their well being.
I’ve heard there is no money in beekeeping, it’s expensive, and requires maintenance. Those comments are normally followed by “but it gets in your blood”. I now understand what they mean.
I wonder how many names I need. Hive #1 and Hive #2 now seems so impersonal.