Package of bees

First Bee Order for 2012—DONE!

Yesterday I placed what is probably the first of my 2012 bee orders. I ordered 20 packages (each package comes with its own queen). For a number of years, I’ve order my bees through Dave Heilman of Ohio Honey Farm, and I’ve had good luck with them…each spring, Dave drives a big truck to Georgia and then, as he drives back to his place in Wooster, Ohio, he drops the packages off to his customers. This first call of the season to Dave always brightens my day. Not only is he a nice guy and we get to talk a little bit about bees, but it’s a sign that winter is blowing out. Things start perking.

So long as the weather holds up, we can expect to receive our bees on Saturday, April 14th.

Which means there’ll be a lot of commotion that day. And the next. I can hardly wait.

Now, some of you know that I’m trying to build a sustainable apiary of local bees and local survivor queens, so eventually I’ll not need to order packages of bees from elsewhere. But it’s slow going. This year I plan to raise local queens. And I’ve ordered a few queens with good reputations (from Zia Queen Bees in New Mexico and from Russell Apiaries in Mississippi) from which I hope to eventually raise more queens. We’ll see how it goes.

(As I type this, I hear a mouse eating something in my cabinet. It sounds as if an entire family of mice is eating through the entire cabinet and all its contents. And the cat curled up here is useless.)

Deb’s uncle Doyle wants me to supply him right this minute with queens from my apiary. I asked him to try holding his horses until June.

Below is a picture of my very first package of bees:

Queen of the Amazons

New Mexico, Here I Come

Yes, I’ve been absent for a few months. But the bees and I are both back to flying now.

Only the Amazon hive made it through the past winter. I love those Amazons. Funny, I call them the Amazons without even thinking about it.

The fact that the Amazons, the hive I captured from a swarm two years ago, is the only of my hives to have successfully overwintered two winters underscores my determination to raise my own queens from survivor stock. I think it’s unnatural to order my bees and queens from Georgia or California as I’ve been doing, and I’m not gonna do it any more.

If I plan to raise bees successfully, I’d better get down to raising my own queens from my own strong surviving stock. Yes, it’s a big step, but I’m 52-years old and smart, and who’s gonna take the big steps if not me?!

I tried to sign up for an Ohio State queen-rearing workshop this year, but that workshop, which is capped at 50 people, was already filled. So, I called the lady at the Ohio State Bee Lab to see how I could finagle my way into the workshop. I got a little bit outlandish on the phone as I created these wild and scheming ways of getting in. I cracked myself up with my ideas, but the lady was a sourpuss. You know the type—type-A rule follower. Well, I’d already decided to drive myself the 3 hours up there in May with my $75 registration fee in hand and in cash and see if they turned me down. They would have let me in. I can charm my way into anything.

However, the thought of being in that Ohio State workshop with those people (whom I find dull based on experience at bee school these past two years) led me to explore further. And through a wonderful and serendipitous chain of one thing leading to another, I found Zia Queenbees in Truchas, NM, where I am now one of 12 people registered for a 2-day queen-rearing workshop in the mountains along the road between Taos and Santa Fe.

And I am totally flipped out with delight about it.

(Queen of the Amazons is at 7 o’clock below)

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Queen of the Amazons