Friday, October 14, 2016

About a Hive

The hive's within.
So we now have a the base of our backyard decorative fountain. This is the thing about living in the country -- you never know what you're going to get. You might have deer, a fox or even a mountain lion roaming your property. Or you might go outside one day and find a hive of bees has decided your yard is the address where they want to make their home.

Which I think is kind of an honor, actually. Talk about creating a bee-friendly habitat -- that moment when 500 or so of them arrive and let you know you've done it right is a great feeling.

Point of entry.

Our bees arrived en masse a few days ago, and unfortunately, set up shop in what (of course) is a totally inconvenient and unsafe place for them to stay. Being that it's inside the base of the fountain, it's highly susceptible to an ant invasion, and of course is impossible to manage the honey production safely.

But the thing is, I love these bees.  I'm also allergic to their sting, to the point where I keep an epi-pen on hand when I'm in the garden, so most of my bee enjoyment tends to be in small doses, and from a safe distance. I will never be a beekeeper for this reason, and the hive cannot remain where it is for that reason as well. But I'm still happy the bees chose us.

But what to do with them was a conundrum.

It didn't take me long to come up with a solution. Because you know who else loves bees, to a point where he actually has a beekeeper's outfit and beekeping equipment? My boss at the winery, that's who. He had a hive until last year, when the queen died and the minions deserted the bee box, and he's been looking for a replacement hive ever since.  And now he has one. Mine. 

Better Homes for bees.

It turns out this hive is an offshoot -- excess product if you will -- from a much larger hive which exists someplace on this property (I don't know where, but it's certainly not in the way of anything and therefore no danger to me). So this new hive can be moved and we will still have plenty of bees here.

So next week, we have an apiarist coming to remove the hive from the fountain and put it into the winery bee box. Then we will move it away from here, down the road to the winery, where they can hopefully live out their days and make lots of honey.

Ready for occupancy!

It's not a done deal yet, and it may be trickier than we've all imagined (isn't it always?) but I'll keep you up to date as we go and let you know what happens to these awesome little guys. They are a mellow bunch, not even minding when I get close to take pics of them, so I think they'll make a great addition to the winery. And, you know, if they ever do get a little grumpy, there's plenty of Cabernet on hand to settle them down again. Hey, it works for people.


  1. when I lived in the Bay Area, I had a hive show up at my house and collect in one of my trees. I called a "bee guy" who came and removed them. It was very interesting to watch.

    1. I truly admire these people, Denise. They are so committed to bees surviving that they drive all over the place rescuing them. Pretty awesome!

  2. My next door neighbor, at the winery, has bee hives ... all of which came from collecting this type of excess-population swarms. I'm amazed at how the bees cooperate and set up housekeeping in the new location.

    1. I'm SO hoping they do well in their new home in the vineyard, Connie. I have a feeling we all could learn a lot from the bees about cooperation and flexibility!