Have you ever had that moment when you feel like you have failed as a parent or pet owner? Not necessarily something huge like you forgot to pick your kid up from soccer practice and finally remembered 3 days later, or you strapped your pet carrier on the top of your car while on a cross country trip. I mean more like, “Holy crap, that could have been bad…” That’s how I felt a few weeks ago. After we had set up our bees and they were happily buzzing around pollinating plants and building their honeycomb, we got a huge freak storm. For over an hour it POURED rain, hail and all. The small creek that cuts through our property jumped its banks and rose close to 4 feet. Our driveway was underwater, as was most of the front field – this front field, where our precious (and expensive) bees resided.
By the time the rain stopped and we went to investigate the damage of the storm, we found, to our horror, that the creek was 6” from the bottom of our bee boxes! Luckily the creek subsided as time went on and they stayed dry. When the water went down enough for us to get over to them, they were still flying in and out; they hadn’t bailed ship thankfully. The metal tops of the boxes were riddled with dents from the hail, but that was the extent of the lasting damage. We needed to move those bees ASAP. However, our neighbors who own the other bee box were on vacation for a few days and we needed to wait until came back so we could have some extra hands. And of course, more rain was in the forecast. Two days after the flash flood they were calling for another inch of rain to add to our already saturated ground. I spent the entire day at work worried our bees were being swept downstream. But they weren’t. The creek went up again, but nothing like during the flash flood.
A few days later our neighbors were back, and our other neighbor, who was planning on getting a third set of bees for The Compound bee colony, had finally received his bees in the mail. Perfect timing and excuse to get the other hives moved and set up before adding an additional hive. We all decided on another location behind the blueberry patch, on higher ground and still out of the way. Since all together we only have three bee suits for the five members of The Compound, the boys geared up and went to retrieve our bees from the other side of the creek. The scariest part of the whole ordeal wasn’t that they were carrying a large board with two bee boxes perched on top while bees angrily and confusedly flew all around them; it was when they had to cross the creek which had super muddy banks (especially after all the rain) and a steep drop off into the water. Who was going to slip and eat it while carrying all those bees? No one. Thank God.
After the boxes were set in their new homes, Scott went to start setting up his new hive while my husband and Donnie went into the two original hives to check on them. Since the time we had made sure the queen bee was out of her box, we hadn’t gone into the hives at all to check on them. We wanted to give them some time and space, and let the queen start putting those other bees to work while she laid her eggs. In one of the hives we found the queen bee right away; we never came across her in the second hive. There were a few frames in each hive filled up with pollen and honey comb; not as many as we were hoping to see. Since all the bees were flying around and already stressed from their move, we didn’t want to poke around too much, but from what we saw, there weren’t many, if any, eggs laid yet. This weekend we will go back in and check on them again.
So far the bees seem to like their new home. I am not sure if we lost any due to the move. After they were all moved and we closed the boxes back up, my husband and Scott went back to their original location and found a decent sized swarm of bees flying around the old location. We are guessing they are bees that were out foraging when we moved them and didn’t know where to go. The guys found that if they stood there for a few minutes, the bees would land on them and then they could slowly walked them over to their new location (on one of the trips Scott did slip on the muddy bank…better then and not while carrying the hives 🙂 ). So now our bees are high and dry; more flowers are blooming for them to forage from, and hopefully the queen is making more bees to increase our healthy hives!