Sunday, May 06, 2012

Gabrielle has taken up smoking again …

Gabrielle, she's smokin' ...
… but happily, we need not concern ourselves with her health as she’s not inhaling the little puffs, directing them instead at bees.  As I’ve written many times, we have a long list of things to do, however, that does not seem to put us off looking for new projects to occupy us further and bees have been on our permaculture smallholding wish list for quite a while.
different sorts of honey bees
It is over a year ago that I wrote of our purchase of a hive, with the promise of a swarm just as soon as our lovely local apiculteur Jean Meilleur (lit: John Best) could supply us with one.  It was a poor year for bees last year.  So, when Gabrielle came across a chap offering a nucleus of bees for sale, we went to see him.
Richard is an enthusiast.  If it’s not tautologically inappropriate to say, he is an enthusiastic enthusiast, bubbling over with energy, and he invited us to have a look at our prospective purchase, along with a few other hives, so as to get to know our new co-habitants.  Gabrielle had purchased a beekeeper’s smock for herself and an ‘observer’s smock’ for me.   Gabrielle kitted herself out with a pair of gardening gloves and Richard lent me a pair of blue ‘industrial Marigolds’ (thick rubber gauntlets).

It was a classic case of learning everything in the doing.  All the reading we had done wasn’t the preparation that a hands-on with an expert alongside can provide and we left there with even more enthusiasm and a whole load more savoir-faire and confidence.  Gabrielle painfully learnt that her gloves were inappropriate but I traveled home as un-stung as I’d arrived.
check out the pollen

Two days later, with the day turning to dusk, Richard arrived with our queen with her five frames of larvae, honey, nectar and workers in a nucleus box.  That now sits where our hive will live and, in a few days time, we move the box aside, replace it with our hive, move the frames across (making sure that we don’t lose the queen in the process) and Bob’s-your-uncle, we’ll have a functioning beehive.  

A day later and our bees are not only having a fly around to re-orient themselves to their new location but arriving home with yellow saddlebags of pollen, so they seem to bee reesonablee happée!