Monday, May 26, 2014

Bees and Butternut

Last Wednesday one of our beehives swarmed. That means it was really full of bees, a healthy hive, and some of the bees decided to leave with a handful of queens, and start a new hive elsewhere to relieve the over-crowding. They swarmed into a nearby tree.
You really don't want to lose a swarm if you can help it. Those are good bees that you've worked hard to grow! If Adam were healthier right now, he could have managed the hives earlier to split them and avoid the crowding, but he simply could not do that work with his bad leg. So ... we decided to attempt to keep the swarm. We got an empty hive ready for them.
We spread a sheet under the tree branch, and shook the bee swarm from the branch. It's a little scary to have several thousand bees suddenly descend on you, to maintain your cool, fold over the sheet to enclose about half of them (while the rest buzz around your body), walk the sheet to the hive box, and gingerly attempt to quickly shake the bees off the sheet and into the box. We shook the branch four times and did our best. We stapled mesh across the entrance to keep them in, and hoped for the best.
Three days later, we moved the hive to the bee table where the other two hives stand. We opened their entrance. Would they stay?
We gave them sugar water to eat. They started drawing comb. They're carrying pollen into the hive. The bees from the swarm were already old bees, and they're dying off each day, so the new hive has a diminishing workforce until its queen can lay brood in the newly drawn comb and the brood hatch out. Let's hope they make it happen! And see the red/white hive on the left with the bees bearding on the front? That's the hive that's doing so well it has swarmed twice this spring.
The tree near the bee hives is the only significant tree in our yard. I've been wondering what kind of tree it is -- it's an odd one. It's a spreading type of tree with long, low-slung branches.
Its leaves are compound pinnate. Recently the fruit has begun to form in large green clusters, and then I really had to know what it was!
While we sat and looked at bees (a lovely passtime), I flipped through this handy little book:
And I found it! Apparently we have a butternut tree.
Last night, finally, I took Adam to our old date spot in front of the harbor to sit on the bench there. It's been too long. It was a tad windy ... even chilly! ... but we enjoyed ourselves. We chat a bit, look at boats, imagine what our neighbors are up to, and enjoy the sunset.
Considering how beautiful our children are, we are not very photogenic. Although that doesn't keep me from trying the occasional series of double-selfies!


  1. Wow, I loved these bee shots!!! I find them so fascinating! It's funny you are talking about them because a blog post I wrote three or four days ago was a review of a wonderful book I read called 'The legend of the hive' which was a fictional 1st person account of the life of a worker honeybee! It was great, you'd probably love it too!x

  2. Self photographs are always difficult. I used to love going with Daddy when he went to pick up a swarm of bees...fascinating!

  3. Lovely as always! Y'all look great together! Of course. Have a blessed evening!

  4. I looked up your tree on Wiki - looks like you can eat those nuts. I am not sure I would have the intestinal fortitude required to shake a swarm from the tree!! Apart from anything else I am allergic to stings of all sorts and bee stings most of all. Well done to collecting those bees and not losing them.

  5. How exciting your bee experience sounds. Scary! Hope the bees will settle in and do their thing in the hive.

    Glad you found out what your tree is and you did it quickly.

    Love those selfies of you two. You are lovely and and he handsome.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  6. Wonderful bees. I know nothing about bee keeping but I admire you for doing it. I know a bee keeper who keeps me in lovely raw honey. I haven't seen very many bees around lately and we need them to pollinate our apple tree blossoms.

    I think you and Adam are very smart looking!!


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