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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Sallisaw, Oklahoma, USA


    This is our first year beekeeping and we had ordered three 3-pound packages of bees from Wilbanks back in early January. As many of you know, the weather was very uncooperative for them and they had several delays in shipping.

    My packages were certainly no exception and Wilbanks had let me know that they would be shipped out May 15th so they were not expected to arrive until the 18th or so. Because of the delay, we had decided that we would install the foundation into the frames this weekend and finish up any odds and ends.

    Thursday, the 13th, my phone rang at 5:30 AM and, since no one ever calls me that early, my first thought was, “It’s the post office! Oh, no I’m not prepared!” Indeed, it was my local postmaster saying that he had a shipment of bees for me. It made me glad that I typed up a sheet with the shipping information and contact numbers which I dropped off with him earlier in the week.

    I suddenly had a huge rush of adrenaline which made me more awake than I have been at 5:30 in a very long time. I immediately called my sister and told her that the bees had arrived. She was then very, very awake as well and we both began planning the day which began with a phone call to work to take the day off.

    I arrived at the post office by 6:00, rang the bell, and heard someone say in the back, “They’re here to get the bees!” The man who came to the window was extremely nice and didn’t seem to be intimidated by handling the bees at all. They were in excellent shape and my first reaction to seeing them was simply to think to myself, “They are truly beautiful!” I put them in the car and off I went.

    I was at my sisterÂ’s by 7:00 and she had already gotten everything together to start installing foundation into the frames. We sprayed the bees with some sugar water, put them in her kitchen, and went to work.

    We had decided early on that we would use an 18 gauge brad gun for several of our assembly jobs and it has turned out to be the best $90 we have invested in a long time. We bought a Bosch model that uses 5/8” up to 2” brads. It has saved us an incredible amount of time and the foundation installation was no exception. We had finished with 60 frames by 9:30 or so and were extremely relieved that we had made as much progress.

    Our next project was to set up the hives and mow the grass around the bee yard. We had this finished by about 12:30 and the only thing left to do was to mix some syrup and hive the bees. This is where things went somewhat awry.

    The weather was cloudy with rain predicted but the local meteorologists kept saying that we would not get any serious rain until late in the evening maybe after dark so we planned on hiving the bees around 5:00 or so that evening. We should have known better than to listen to the weather men! We could have done a better job predicting the weather casting chicken bones or feeling the bumps on someoneÂ’s head!

    We get the bees and head to the bee yard as we notice the skies are a little darker than we expected. We begin to hive the first package and suddenly lightning and thunder begin to get closer and closer. We had already removed the queen from the package so we thought, “There’s no turning back now, let’s just get this done and we can hive the others later.”

    Other than removing the cork from the wrong end of the queen cage, which was promptly replaced by a marshmallow, the installation was almost textbook perfect. Since our hive stands are made of cinder blocks placed in a U-shape we slid the shipping crate under the hive to protect the remaining bees from the oncoming storm. We closed up the hive and headed for shelter just as the skies let loose.

    As we entered the house, I squatted down to set the pail of sugar syrup on the kitchen floor. From the intense burning sensation in the back of my leg, I knew that I had pinched an unseen hitchhiker. I stood up and there she was - the first casualty.

    We sat in the house and watched it pour buckets. I kept thinking, “This was such a mistake!” Finally, after about 35 minutes of torrential rain, it stopped and the skies lightened but still no sun. We made the decision to go ahead with the other two hives.

    Hive number two went perfectly well. This is where I got my second sting of the day. We had closed the hive and as I bent over to slide the crate under the hive, the burning sensation again. This time in my side from one of the girls that had landed on my shirt unnoticed.

    The third hive also went extremely well. After we had finished and had left the bee yard, we were standing off to the side watching the activity and my sister realized she had one of the girls trapped in her hair. We had removed our veils so I assumed this was a visitor that had gotten stuck and would return to the hive when released. This faulty assumption led to the third sting of the day. I brushed the bee from her hair and was immediately stung under the right eye. From now on, sheÂ’ll have to get the bees out of her own hair.

    So, all the bees were hived and we had no choice but to call it a day as it was beginning to get dark earlier than normal with the heavy cloud cover.

    Friday was a cloudy, dreary, unusually cool day. The high only reached 60 degrees and there was no activity from the hives. This made us very uncomfortable but we could do nothing else. The stragglers who were left in the crates were clustered together so we assumed this was what the hive was doing as well. The low for Friday night was right around 49 or 50 and I wasnÂ’t sure if the stragglers would make it or not.

    Today, Saturday, the clouds finally broke and the temperatures soared back up into the upper 70Â’s. The girls were busy asÂ…well, bees! By this afternoon they were already beginning to bring pollen back to the hive and the hum from each hive was comforting. My sisterÂ’s mother-in-law down the road had bees all over the white clover in her yard and we assumed these were our girls since there have been no feral bees in our area for years. All the stragglers had joined the hives so we slid the crates out and went on our way.

    All in all, itÂ’s been a very interesting 3 days and I have come to realize that the bees are much more forgiving than I had originally thought. They seem to be doing extremely well and weÂ’ll check the queen cages on Monday evening to see if theyÂ’ve been released.

    Again, I want to say thanks to all of you who have answered questions and given your input directly or indirectly. Weather and all, this has been three of the best days I have had in a very, very long time!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    Except for the stings, it sounds like you did fine. Hard on the stragglers in that kind of weather though. As long as you make sure they don't starve you can keep them in a dark quiet basement or closet for several days. I often refill the cans because the shippers just make them big enough for the trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA


    That's awesome Steve,
    Hope you enjoy your new found hobby.


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