We have many, many new animals now, all of a sudden. The chicks were planned, but the bees were an impulse buy. Here’s how it happened. We ordered chicks, they had a ship date, we had some time to wait. No big deal. While waiting, I happened to be browsing on the “Farm and Garden” section of Craigslist – okay I’m addicted to the site – and someone was selling his beekeeping setup. With bees in the hive.
How could I pass that up?
So, knowing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about beekeeping, we hopped in our pickup truck and got the hive and various boxes and frames and whatever the guy handed us. He tried to explain what the parts were, but Jason and I just glazed over and smiled and nodded. No clue.
It was evening, so the bees were asleep, and he trapped them inside, strapped it all together and loaded it on the pickup. We drove home and unloaded by the light of the headlights. We were basically trusting the guy that there were bees inside, because even after we unloaded the hive we saw not a one, it being night. The next day we looked, and there were bees coming out! Yay! We decided to feed them (sugar water) since they had been through an ordeal, and since there are only a few flowers in bloom now.
But we had no beekeeping gear at all – how could we safely open the hive? Then I remembered the mosquito netting I had purchased once upon a time (a misguided purchase as it turned out) that was up in the attic. A hat for each of us, some long sleeves and gloves, some mosquito netting thrown on top and voila we were beekeepers!
We have since taken a class on beekeeping and found out we were not doing about a million things we should have been doing for the bees and were doing several things wrong. But at least we have a little more of a clue.
When the shipping date came for the chicks, we were very excited. We waited and waited, called the post office, and finally called the hatchery. They sent them, but we didn’t get them. Days and days went by. The chicks would not survive all these days without water, food or heat. We were not happy about the prospect of receiving a late box of dead chicks. I got my money back and ordered from another company. The first chicks NEVER came! We have since concluded they must have been delivered elsewhere. But no worry, we got our chicks from the other hatchery and they were alive and well – and cost less!
So, we have our work cut out for us. The chickens we feel fairly confident about, but the bees are going to have to endure our bumbling – no pun intended. We won’t have any appreciable amount of honey until a year from September, but we’ll have chicken meat in July (we’ll “process” all the males but one or two) and many eggs starting in August. Meanwhile, it’s looking a lot more like a farm around here!