My husband has said for years that he wanted to add honey bees and hives to our property. Being a gardener, I knew what benefits and satisfaction that would bring! Bees would be a plus for the garden and our orchard trees and if he was on board, then I would not have to tend the hives alone! So, I decided to sign up for a beginning beekeeping class at a local shop near us. I stress the word BEGINNING. Although I went alone, the class itself was wonderful! A quaint shop, small class of like minded folks who had as many questions as I did. Some had experience, lost hives, dead bees, captured swarms... I listened intently to all the stories, took notes and laid my plan. I was anxious to get home and tell my husband about all I had learned. After class, I carefully put together and order of 2 complete hives, equipment for the beginning beekeeper - things like a smoker, gloves, a hive tool, bee brush and a hat and veil. I also ordered 2 NUCS that would come in at a later date...so I had plenty of time to build my hives and get things completely ready for the newest arrivals! Over the next month, I did just that. I built each super and frame and filled the hive with foundation and eagerly awaited my Italian Honey Bees. The call came and I could hardly hold back my excitement! My bees were in and needed to be picked up within 24 hours!
With my daughter in school and my husband at work, that left me to be the sole chauffer to escort my bees safely home to the hives. I headed out for a 30 minute drive to pick up my NUCS. Upon arrival I quickly questioned my decision. Other folks picking up bees had mesh laundry bags and I wondered why they would be needed. The bees came in a box, right? Sure. A box with holes! When I opened the truck to remove my boxes, bees went flying everywhere! This would not be a problem had I been driving my truck with a camper however, I was in my SUV which meant my bees would be able to fly around the vehicle with me! I have never driven so carefully - with full blown air conditioning to keep them cook and calm, I repeated the words, "Please stay back there, do not sting me" probably a million times before I arrived home. Just as I pulled in the driveway, the first bees out of the box began to fly around my face. We made it. But the installation process was not over.
I wanted my husband to help me install the bees and I wanted the bees to calm down from the drive so I darted from the car (leaving the door open - who cares if a few fly away, right?) and quickly went into the house. Now if you know my husband, he rarely, if ever, comes home from work on time. I was tired of waiting so I slipped into my pajamas around 11 pm. My pajamas consist of a very loose fitting nightgown with nothing else on underneath. So you can guess what is coming... He arrived home around midnight and agreed to go ahead and place the frames into the hives so the bees could get started in their new homes the next morning.
I loaded the smoker. Hint, to do it right, this actually takes practice! Before you need one, try it! I wish I had! I also let HIM wear the gloves and the hat and veil (yes, I was not smart and only bought one set!). But he should have worn them since he was actually handling the bees. The bees should not bother ME because I had the smoker (nervous laugh inserted here), right? So, in my long flowing moo-moo type pajamas, I escorted my husband out to the darkness toward the bee hives and watched as he started to open the boxes and remove frames of sleepy bees. Things seemed to be going well. Slow and steady. One hive was just about installed when suddenly, I felt a pinch, a stick, a burn, something. Right in the middle of my left breast. YES! I felt it again. I looked down and saw nothing. A quick brush against my breast touched nothing - and then another sting! Oh. My. Gosh. I suddenly remembered that lesson from bee school that said bees will crawl up, but they will not crawl back down and so once they are "stuck", they will sting! I knew then at least one bee had flown up my nightgown and could not get out which resulted in the repeated sting attack!. And then another sting. And another. I remember how confused my husband looked as I slowly put down the smoker and started to walk away backwards, toward the house. He called out to me but by that time, I had had enough and I broke into a full blown sprint. The stinging continued. About half way the backdoor, I thrust off my nightgown over my head and into the darkness. I ran buck-naked the rest of the way - except for my muck boots - through the back door and into the kitchen! My husband quickly followed to be sure I was OK. Of course I was and I had learned my lesson! He now tells people our first bee installation was during a full moon...