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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Homestead Dream Realized and a Bee (Beginning) Story

Well it seems like forever since I’ve posted a blog here! It certainly was not intentional. We’ve just been so overwhelmed getting everything ready for the house to get to the homestead and then getting us to the homestead! Why does any construction project have to be so wrought with frustrations and disappointments? I guess that would have been a huge upside to building for ourselves – we could think through all the little things and do them right. Like where light switches are located and air system vents and not just building to meet minimum code, but better than that. But, if we were building ourselves, we would still have had to get some kind of temporary housing so that we could be on the property, and it probably would have taken us five or more years to complete it. Not to mention every free moment would have been consumed with building a house. This way, we are there, we have a brand new house, plenty of space for all our stuff and yet we are purposefully living below our means. Instead, we can focus on all the other things we want to add to our little homestead: fencing, a carport, a woodwork shop, a chicken coop and run, a duck coop and run, a rescue bunny retirement home, cows, more bees, fruit trees, expanded garden, a greenhouse, a barn and corral…whew! The list goes on (doesn’t it always!).

Speaking of bees, ours arrived! They were delayed, but only by a week. And of course they showed up the weekend we were moving! But we were (mostly) ready for them. I’ll admit I was a little anxious. I’ve never been stung (got that out of the way yesterday). And staying still while you’re being buzzed by hundreds or thousands of bees flying around, well, that just goes against your every instinct. We worked through step by step, spraying them with our sugar syrup, opening the packages, removing the can of sugar syrup they traveled with, figuring out where the queen was and how she was attached (it wasn’t exactly the same as all the literature we’d read), shaking them out of the box, uncapping the queen cage, hanging her in the hive, replacing the bars and putting the lid back on the hive. We were wishing we had a brush to gently move them out of the way to replace the top bars, but then, a stroke of genius…we pulled some of the two foot tall grass stems that are going to seed and used them as a brush. Talk about organic – and it worked like a charm! My hubby was wearing a short sleeve shirt and no gloves (we both had hats with veils) and he didn’t get stung even once. I had a long sleeve shirt on and some white gardening gloves and only got stung once – of all places on the inside of my leg. I guess one landed on my leg and as my legs came together, she thought she was getting squished. The stinger didn’t even make it into my leg though because it was through my pants. This morning you can hardly see the spot anymore. And while it wasn’t something I’d sign up to do every day, now that it happened, I’ve gotten that first sting out of the way and it’s not that big of a deal.

I can’t explain the feeling we had once we were done. We have SO MUCH to learn yet. But it was just AMAZING!! I see why people that get into bees really get into it. From some strange reason, it felt very empowering. If you just learn a little about bees and their world and how they function, they are positively incredible little creatures. We are using top bar hives that my hubby built and we have them set up under a huge pecan tree that’s over 100 years old. They’ll have plenty of morning sun, but have some cover from the intense late afternoon sun during the summer. Our tank (pond) is going dry (it wasn’t dug out correctly) so we put water out for them. We’ll set up a more permanent waterer of some sort in the near future. We hope they like their wonderful hand-built hives and our place as much as we do!

Update: This bar is towards the back.  There are bars that have huge "globs" of bees, and we suspect, bigger pieces of new comb.  But we didn't want to disturb them too much.  We were just checking to make sure the queen had been released.

Until next time, worms rock and bees rule.

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