Well, nobody said keeping bees was for the weak of heart, (or downright foolish, either.) Yep, here's my tale.
I've got a hive with four 8-frame medium boxes way out in a pasture clearing in my neighbors yard. About 150 yards from my backyard. The hive has been at the edge of the east side, and never gets full sun until almost sundown. I thought I'd move the hive to a friends house and see how it goes over there. The bees never built up quick, and haven't made much honey in one of the best honey flows over the last few years.
I wanted to stuff some hardware cloth at the opening last night to block them, but when I saw the guard bees bearding at the entrance - and me with no smoke or veil - I backed off until this morning. I brought a nuc with me for the foragers to find, and placed a frame of brood in it for them to tend.
I had a strap, but it wasn't long enough. Oh well, just put the hive in the wheelbarrow, after plugging the entrance with HW cloth, and away we go.
I found a longer strap at my shop when passing by and used that to secure the whole thing. Okay! On to the minivan.
Because the hive boxes were not so well glued together, (as they normally are,) I saw some separation. This caused me to forbear pushing the hive further into the back of the van, for fear of unsquaring the boxes. (For all you scoring at home, pencil this an ERROR.)
Away we went, and wouldn't you know, the first hard turn left and the hive tumbled over. (YEP!) We pulled over and I quickly saw the boxes had separated somewhat and some bees were coming out. I quickly righted the hive and started squaring them up again. (Yeah, second error and we're not even out of the first inning.)
LOTS OF BEES ARE NOW IN THE CAR. I do NOT have my smoker, and I do NOT have my veil. (Just smack me on the head with the scorecard.)
A couple of bees decide to express their sentiments, and my lip looks like I've been fist-fighting with them. Same for the nose.
I decide to walk back to the house and get some reinforcements. Amazingly, when I returned, (the liftgate on the van had been left open,) the excitement was over and the bees were just trying to figure out how to get back in.
S-L-O-W-L-Y I drove the minivan to my friends house, (who conveniently lives a mile down a dusty, pot-holed road.) We get there, and he wonders if I'm getting along with my wife.
We find a nice spot not far away, and the smoker fires up. (I've been "veiled" for the duration.) Now, what's the best way to move a semi-unsquared hive with lots of rather POed bees just waiting to make someone's day?
Answer! Use the strap. Yep. It will lift the entire hive body and keep everything in relatively decent shape until its moved to the new stand and you can square everything up.
But did I do that? Noooooooo. Had to grab the thing at the bottom box and board and heft it over to the stand. (Stings 4 and 5 in the process. The one of the arm is a real beaut.)
Okay. Hive on stand. Boxes squared. Entrance cleared. Adventure finished for the day. (Bees 5, Me 0)
- Get a box of hive staples and use them.
- Never mess with bees without smoke and veil.
- Secure hives containing MANY THOUSANDS of stinging insects when transporting them.
- Lift hives with straps.
- Consider new hobby.
Actually, I'm amazed it ended so well so quickly. Honestly. When that hive tipped I thought it would be nightfall before I could move on. The fact that they calmed down so quickly and I finished the move was the most amazing part.
I was kicking myself for my stupidity, but this is definitely a learning experience. The hive staples were a real must in this case. The strap was not sufficient. Not securing them in the van was super-boo boo number 2. And then not having smoke and veil just made sure I wouldn't soon forget my blunders.
I kept good humor all throughout. Both arms, lip, and eyes have swelled considerably, but I went fishing this afternoon anyway. (And no, ice is not really a very helpful anti-swelling technique. The benedryl probably was the better call there.)
All in all, I'm giving thanks to the Lord for some real help with this, and passing along my tale for the annals.