Guys. Guys. I don’t even know where to start on last week, but, okay, let’s start here:
That’s me in my car. With 30,000 bees tucked into the back seat.
OR, we could start here…
That’s me last Sunday morning, after 4 hours of sleep, getting ready to mix and pour 160-pounds of concrete into a form for the top of my new patio table. (You’re probably wondering 1.) How is this related to bees? And I don’t know. It’s not. These projects are just inexorably linked in my head after the last week, and 2.) Why an effing patio table and not the garden or the bathroom or the pergolas or the fruit trees? Right? I think those things too sometimes BUT THIS IS WHAT I DO. Let’s just roll with it, because it means that I make awesome things when the mood strikes.)
The bees were ready to go on Wednesday so I took the afternoon off work for a doctors appointment and the drive up to the bee farm to pick up my new roomates. The doctor’s appointment is relevant because when they took my vitals the nurse was like, “your blood pressure is a little high…” and I was like, “Oh, really? Well, when I leave here I’m going to go pick up two boxes that contain 30,000 bees and then drive an hour and a half back home with them. So. REASONS.”
You know, I’ve put two cars into ditches in the last 15 years, and one of them I flipped all the way over. So maybe—maybe–I’m not the best person to be driving around with 30,000 bees in their car. Just saying.
Despite the unfavorable odds we did get back to the farm safely…
At which point the welcoming committee ran up to the car, like TREATS?! Then when I pulled a box of bees out of the car were like, WHAT. THE. FUCK.
I love chickens.
(In the chickens’ defense, the cat was also unamused.)
Anyway, you guys, I watched so many YouTube videos about installing package bees. According to pretty much everything I’ve read, you spritz the bees with a little sugar water, shake them out of the box into the hive, put the queen cage in there, and put everything back together again with, like, no problems. In fact, here are actual quotes I’ve pulled from beekeeper websites:
“The bees will be docile because they have no hive or honey to protect”
“I don’t use a smoker when installing package bees”
“Gloves are the first protective equipment to go, I work better without them”
I was pretty confident. I build houses for chrissake, I can shake a few thousand bees out of a box without a problem. And even though EVERYONE SAYS you don’t need all the protective gear, since I had the whole outfit I decided to fully suit up for my first foray into installing package bees.
This? This is the face of supreme overconfidence you guys.
Because I did spray those bees with sugar water. And I did shake them out of their box. AND THEY WERE FUCKING PISSED.
Apparently they already started building some comb in that box…
And they were like, “Bitch, we are NOT leaving this box.” And I was like… uh… but this is not what the YouTube videos said… (Life lesson: YouTube lies.)
And then one very industrious bee found the tiny little gap where the zipper of the veil meets the suit and ended up INSIDE MY HAT.
Can we just… seriously? Seriously. Imagine that for a minute: A bee. Trapped within a seven-inch circumference of your face. THIS. This this the litmus test for how a human handles themselves under pressure.
Here’s how I handled it: I held my shit together for a good six, maybe seven seconds. And then that bee burrowed in to my hair right next to my ear and I FUCKING LOST IT. The next thing you know, I’m running across the yard, yelling, stripping bee gear (and clothes) off, which was totally a rookie mistake. YOU DO NOT GET NAKED AROUND ANGRY BEES.
At one point I had three of them stuck in my tangled mane of hair and half a dozen more chasing me all the way until I jumped–half clothed–into the shower.
I sustained three stings: Scalp, back, and RIGHT IN MY DAMN NECK.
People say you get accustomed to bee-venom after a while and I basically just mainlined that shit through my jugular… so I might be like the spider-man of bees from now on.
You never know.
Anyway, THAT WAS A FIASCO. And even after the stings I had to suit-up again (plus duct-tape over the zipper hole) and try to introduce my bees to the hive…
Which was moderately successful? I don’t know. I’ve heard so many stories from people who spent a year or two working with bees before they got their first sting. I got THREE in FIVE MINUTES. From here on out, everything I do with bees is suspect, okay?
But since I took and afternoon of work–something I take very seriously–and all I had to show for it was getting my ass kicked by a couple of bees, I decided to build a table for my porch.
TECHNICALLY I poured the concrete top for this thing last weekend (which you may have seen if you follow the facebook page, and I’ll have a full how-to on the whole project soon) but after my bee fiasco on Wednesday I decided to build the stand for this thing and deadlift all 180 pounds of it into an upright position…
But my week wasn’t done yet. The next day I had to install the bees for my second hive.
I was (understandably) hoping not to get stung in any super sensitive part of my body again, and, like magic, that bee installation went just like you see in the YouTube videos.
I was THRILLED, you guys, because before that I thought I was pretty much an utter failure as a new beekeeper. And someone should tell this story: the story where there newbee (haha) got her ass kicked by some bees the first time out the gate, and then nailed it the very next day. Because I did.
In fact, I installed that second package of bees so quickly that I had plenty of time to run to the store and pick up the new patio furniture I bought a few weeks ago that had come in that day…
WHAT. What just happened here?!
The most awesome thing ever. That’s what.
Just for reference, this is what the patio off the kitchen has looked like for the last three years…
Yes. Those are mis-matched chairs and some kind of fire-pit-coffee-table with a bigass hole in the middle because it’s missing the firepit (long story). Three years, you guys. Because I have plans for this patio that don’t involve this furniture, and, you know, I also get all uppity about building every single piece of furniture that exists on this farm. (I’m getting better at that. See also, bed.)
So I finally just bought an effing sectional for the porch, and then–a day after pulling a bee-stinger out of my neck–I hauled it up on to the porch, sat my ass down, opened a bottle of wine, spent the evening listening to music and stargazing, and realized I AM THE HAPPIEST GIRL.
I am. Bee stings and all.
In fact, I handled the disappointment of those bee stings (and my perceived failure as a beekeeper) not by moping, or bitching, or sitting around nursing my beestings, but by doing things that make me feel awesome and powerful.
Like staying up way too late on a work night building a Pottery Barn patio table that is currently retailing for $999 for under $150.
And even though NONE OF THESE THINGS IS FINISHED I still feel pretty damn good about all of them.
Hat’s off to you! I would’ve down a triple dose of benadryl and then opened the wine! Yeah … stings and I don’t work well together. The table is amazing and no East Coast hurricane would move it so looking forward to the details. Great choice of furniture, too! Really great work, Kit!
Hmmm … I still have the same look as the cat … “Seriously? ! That’s the best you could do for me?! You want to kill me? Do you even HAVE a feline epi pen? What happened to my Catnip Wine? … Humans. (Hairball Gag of disdain.)”
My favorite word is “badass.”
You are now my favorite badass.
I think this is ten million levels of woman rawr awesome! The table kicks ass!
Thanks for this!
Great story, told well…..they always produce a grin and I glean a bit of motivation from them….Congratz on the bee and table success!
Can’t wait to hear the details of how you dead lifted (seriously?!?) that table top off the floor and onto the patio.
I’m sorry but I was seriously laughing out loud at your description of the bee sting incident. I wouldn’t have lasted 6 or 7 seconds.
I’ll be interested in learning how you deadlifted 180 pounds. I have a big project that is about the same amount of weight that will have to be lifted upright a couple of times, and I am NOT looking forward to it. Any tips you may have would be much appreciated.
love the new table! and patio furniture. glad that the 2nd bee install went great. hope the first bees don’t remain angry now they have their new house.
Awesome story and omg! Beekeeping is so awesome! Love what you’re doing with the patio furniture – looks great. Thanks for sharing.
So pretty! (bees, furniture and table) I’m on pins and needles about the concrete tutorial – we’re thinking about some projects and I’ve been nervous since most diy tutorials I’ve seen are from warm, frost-free climes.
Ha! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I just wanted to drop in and say that I love your updates! You are absolutely hilarious. I love your sense of humor about all your farm shenanigans. Plus you seem like a total badass. You go girl!
I ugly-laughed more than once reading this, and then read it out to the husband to try and get him to appreciate what a magnificent disaster you are!
Good luck with the bees! And awesome job on the table, it’s looks great!
Your blog is my all time favorite. We have several friends who have started keeping bees in the last year. I forwarded this post to them. You need to have a show on HGTV!!!
Love the table!! I’d say I hope those bee stings gave you some kind of super powers, but it is apparent you already some. You are awesome sauce!
Just wanted to say that I love reading your blog – one time when I had some extra time on my hands I totally read it from the first post to the most current – you’ve done so much!
And you may be aware, but in case you aren’t – your formatting seems off on the site – photos are too large for the space and are overlapping the sidebar for me (Chrome). Just thought you’d wanna know!
Oh, man, it’s great to start my morning off with cracking up over the line, “Bitch, we are NOT leaving this box.” And I was like… uh… but this is not what the YouTube videos said… (Life lesson: YouTube lies.)
You are right about YouTube most times…though without it I would never have tried glazing 24 small window panes (make that ‘pains’).
Good Luck with the bees and thanks for the morning laughs!
No one has mentioned that great bee pillow on your sectional. Nice!
I got my bees recently also. They were in nucs so they had comb and brood, but they were fairly docile so I decided to move them into the bigger boxes without a suit, just gloves. Hey, I only got stung three times, and two were by accident because I rubbed/crushed a bee that was crawling on me. Bee stings don’t bother me at all when I get stung, it’s the painful itching that lasts 3-4 days that drives me crazy.
Feeling like a confident beekeeper since I’ve attended two classes, bought my own two bee nucs and played with them a little bit, I answered an ad on Craigslist for someone wanting bees removed. I went and removed them. They were making a hive in an outdoor speaker. All I could think was YAY! Free bees! They are gentle and not Africanized, TG.
I now have three hives and didn’t have to pay another $200+ for another nuc, which can’t be bought any more this year anyway.
Here’s to just getting out there and doing shit, whether you have done it before or not. It’s all great learning.
Your patio looks wonderful!
My hubby says now, in addition to the DIY Diva, you are the Bee-IY DIVA. 🙂
Yes! I need a t-shirt.
I love your chicken voices. Made me smile.
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