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.