An ugly move

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Bens-Bees, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Last night and this morning I moved my bees from the apple orchard back to my main apiary. I knew it was going to be difficult before I even got there as I was running late before I even got to the orchard. That of course led me to have a lead foot to try to buy a few more minutes to load them before it got dark, which led to being pulled over for speeding. Thankfully the very nice officer let me off with a verbal warning to slow down.

    Anyway I got there right around dusk, and it's cold (around 45 degrees) and cloudy and just starting to spit rain. So I get the first pallet loaded ok, without the bees getting too mad, but then I see this swarm hanging nearby (I'll post pics in a couple of hours). So now I'm in a pickle because I didn't bring any extra boxes, bottom boards or top covers. Thankfully another hive had swarmed about two weeks earlier and I had messed up when I caught the other swarm and ended up having to put them on three boxes instead of just two so when I loaded up the other swarm colony I saw that they weren't using the bottom box. Ok one problem solved I've got a box with frames and drawn comb. But I still don't have a bottom board or top cover.
     
  2. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Sorry I had to break this up into multiple posts because I am posting by phone and lost my place and had no way to scroll back down to the end to continue.

    Ok so now I'm getting this idea to combine two colonies with something seperating them so they'll share a top and bottom, but what can I seperate them with? I had window screen material with me, but that would allow the bees to sting each other through it, then I see that I've got a spare jacket in the truck, so I made that work as a seperator. Amazingly it works, so then I took the box and extra top and bottom that I had freed up and shook the now wet and cold swarm in it, they seemed both happy and grateful to have a dry place with a lid. That was the first time I think I've ever shaken a swarm and had every single bee go in the box and not one came out. Usually I end up leaving 25-50 bees behind because they won't stop flying around.
     

  3. Hog Wild

    Hog Wild New Member

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    I reckon alls well that ends well! Improvising on the fly, a beekeeper's motto..... Good Catch! :thumbsup:
     
  4. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    That would have been nice, you know, if all had ended well... but I'm afraid my story's not quite done.

    After getting the swarm I finally get around to loading the second pallet of hives. By this time it's getting really dark and full on raining, and every one of my hives up there was absolutely chaulk-full of bees. Now if you've been a beekeeper for any time at all, you know that's just about the perfect trifecta of circumstances to have REALLY pissy bees. Man oh man did they ever let me know how much they didn't want the hive boxes seperated and moved while it was cold and dark and raining and full of lots of mature bees to sting me. Fortunately my Dadant sheriff's jacket, veil and gloves did their job and I was able to load the final pallet of bees without getting stung which was a miracle considering how many bees were trying to find a place to get me.

    It was around this time that I realized I had a little problem... I have room in the back of my pickup for only 8 hives, but 8 is what I hauled up there and after one emergency split and two swarms I've got 11 to haul back. Now two of them were sharing a bottom board, so I had two extra hives with no room in the back of the pickup. So I realize my only choice is to have the two hives that are on stand-alone bottom boards ride in the cab with me. One was the new swarm so that was no problem I figure because they aren't coming out and would be dossile even if they did. So I put them in the back seat. Now the other hive is one of the full, and now extremely pissy colonies, but I don't really have a choice if I want to haul them that night. All I could do was button up the front with screen and use a tie-down to hold the three hive bodies together and the seatbelt to hold them in place. It was when I was trying to button up that hive with screen that I find my next problem... I ran out of staples about 2 staples short of what I needed to make the screen bee-proof. GREAT, just GREAT I'm thinking, while it's mostly bee-proof it's not totally bee proof and what's more, I won't be able to screen off the swarm hive at all. Not a giant big deal on the swarm hive though, they seem content to stay inside and like I said, they would be dossile anyway. It's the one or two that could get out of the pissy hive that worried me.

    I also realized about this time that I was three tie-downs short of what I needed to secure everything. So now I'm faced with the problem of having to figure out which three colonies are going to get moved without being secured by a tie-down. I had two hives with only three boxes up next to the cab in the bed of the truck that were sitting behind larger colonies so I figure those two are my best bet but I've got to let one more go without a tie-down and everything else in the bed absolutely has to have one. So now I figure the swarm is my best bet because I sure as heck wasn't going to let the pissy hive go without one.

    Now it's still raining and getting colder and I'm soaked by this point and I'm hungry and ready to go home but I'm covered with clingy bees and it's too dark to drive with my veil on, so now I'm faced with my next dilemma, how do I get home without getting stung to pieces by these bees? So I decided the only option was to drive with the cold air on to keep the bees too cold to fly that way I could at least take off my veil, but I'm already cold and wet and it's a two hour drive home. None the less I started out driving home that way, but eventually it got too miserable and I had to turn on the heat. That was a big mistake, because about 5 minutes later I had bees flying around in the cab, some that had been clinging to me, and some that were coming out of the pissy hive.

    It was only about two minutes later, before I could cool the cab back off that a sharp turn came up awefully fast and I had to hit the brakes harder than I wanted to. The hive in the front seat lurches forward and the cover on the swarm comes flying off; within seconds the smell of alarm phermone is thick as pea soup. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. WHAMO! YYYEEEAAOOOWWWCCCCHHH! She got me on the ear. Before I could do anything... bam bam I get two more stings to different parts of the same ear. Finally I get the windows rolled down and the cab cools off enough that bees stop flying, and I'm back to freezing with what already feels like a 10 pound ear that's on fire.

    On top of all that, I can see in the glow of the brake lights that the top boxes on the two unsecured hives had shifted a bit. So I pulled over and put the lid back on the swarm which stayed in the hive despite all the commotion, and then went to put the other two back in place better so that I wouldn't kill all the brood on the rest of the drive home... but now the bees are soo mad that they make pissy look like calm... I mean there's just not a word for how mad these bees were. I'm getting re-covered in bees and even after re-lighting the smoker it's not helping at all. So I finally got them put back together so they wouldn't freeze out the brood and get back in the cab but now I'm covered in massively pissed off bees and my ear is already nearly swollen shut so I'm not about to take off my veil at this point. Fortunately by now I was off the highway and on the back roads so I could go as slow as I needed to in order to drive with the veil still on and barely able to see.

    By the time I got home I'm pretty sure I was in the early stages of hypothermia. But I can finally warm myself back up with a hot shower and meal, then get some rest before getting up early the next morning to drive them up to the main apiary and unload them. I was hoping they had calmed back down overnight, and wouldn't get as riled up, but oh no, my bees apparantly hadn't heard of forgive and forget. All but the swarm colony and the two colonies with lots of german black genetics in them were pissy as all get-out this morning. Go figure on the two that weren't pissy... I really don't understand why those two were calm when I've always heard german black bees were aggressive.

    Anyway, it's all over now but the picture posting... so here you go:
     

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  5. RE Jones

    RE Jones New Member

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    Sounds like you did everything possible and you got all the bees home safely.

    I guess this is what makes keeping bees interesting? All except the swollen ear.

    Robert
     
  6. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Ben, I know you probably don't appreciate hearing this but I have to tell you that I was LMAO by the time I got to the end.
    What is it about someone else's misfortunes at times like that, that seem so funny? Sorry buddy!
    :lol: :rolling:
     
  7. Hog Wild

    Hog Wild New Member

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    Now that's funny! But like I said alls well that ends well-You lost no bee's just ended up with a few stings and a hilarious story to tell!

    Perry you nailed it: It is funnier when it happens to someone else! :lol:
     
  8. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Hog Wild, I recon you're right. They got there one way or another and as far as I know they're no worse for the wear, and just in time for the nectar flow to start.

    Perry, I can appreciate laughing at it now that it's over. I got really into beekeeping because I like how it's challenging, well I sure got my fair share of challenges from that! LOL
     
  9. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    That's a good one Ben, you will never forget it either. Only thing that would have made it better would have been Perry sitting in the passenger seat holding onto that hive :lol:
     
  10. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I must say I was pulling For you all the way through that story.....:grin:
     
  11. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    Lol g3, i can see it:lol:
    Ben, our experience with the bees, and what we do, some keeps wouldn’t have done what you did. I was waiting to read that you got pulled over by the local sheriff for driving erratically……
    Wearing a veil with a truck bed and cab full of pi$$y bees! my ‘veil’ is off to you!:goodpost:
     
  12. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Yup, there sure are some smarter keeps out there... lol.
     
  13. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ben....
    smarter?! i don't know, a better keep, and to your credit, i would have done the same as you!
     
  14. reidi_tim

    reidi_tim New Member

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    I was lmao the whole story:rolling:, it reminded me of when dad had a 68 VW bug and he would go and get feeder calves. His method was to put the calf in a 50 lb feed sack and tie a rope around their neck to keep the contained. Nothing more funny for a seven year old to watch as what happens when you put a calf into a rotted feed sack and gets lose in a bug....:grin: Wow that brought back some childhood memories :thumbsup:
     
  15. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    Tim, Would that be in the same category as putting a mad pig weighing well over 500 lbs. in the back of 4 door buick to drive 1 ½ hours away and hope the drugs don’t wear off? (the drugs wore off):lol:
     
  16. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    That was a GREAT story Ben, thanks for sharing it :)
     
  17. jmblakeney

    jmblakeney New Member

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    Wow great story, I appreciated the reading.

    Next time put a camcorder on the dash. :rolling:
     
  18. oblib

    oblib New Member

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    Great read. Camcorder would have been nice.
     
  19. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    calf and pig in the car :rolling: and I thought I was a red neck :rolling::rolling::rolling:
     
  20. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    Great story! Thanks for sharing. :)

    That is the definition of true dedication!