June: I must admit it was a long wait for the first of the nucs, but I was really trying to get local queens and avoid the boxes.
Then the date came and I was to pick up not only mine, but a nuc for my friend Tim.
No biggie, except that I left my cart out East and had to do this with my wife’s Mini. Space was not as much an issue as the tight suspension and way it seems to lunge to 80, plus lots of interstate on and off ramps between our girls and Planet Tim (their Chicago home). So anyway, I pull up to the area where the beeyards start. It was a toasty June eavening of almost 90 degrees at 8pm! I was early, but my mentor’s mentor spotted me and came over. I immediately knew it was my guy – not many folks walk around with a white jacket hanging a veil. Bill and I chatted a couple minutes, and he invited me on some evening rounds and to scope the beeyard. I was excited and pulled the mini into later loading position, then suited up. Bill insisted on no gloves; I am still a wiener and went for the goat skins. Absolutely cool. Such a variety of hives and set-ups. 8s, 10s, various entry points and guards, and lots of warm bearding bees. I love visiting other beeyards and seeing how people choose to approach the art of beekeeping.
So it’s late and still hot.
Bees do not want to go into their nuc boxes; especially Tim’s girls.
We look through mine several times but can not see my queen. She’s a a stealthy one.
Lots of fresh brood with very healthy patterns on 2 frames and normal hive activity throughout.
After going through some other hive and transfer ideas we decide to pack them up…and give Tim’s some more cooling time.
My nuc box was easy, as it is just a cardboard unit. I held and Bill Gorilla taped everything closed, except the vent holes. We set it out in the yard to clear any stragglers before loading in the car.
It was getting dark and Bill decides to use screen door grade screening to make a secondary capture cup on and around Tim’s front door, as those bees were NOT going back in the hive any time soon. “Brilliant and resourceful” I say, and we both agree it’s past time for a beer on a hot night like this. We had none. Again I held and Bill cut and taped and sealed a secondary front porch. One of the bees from the front porch got under my pant cuff and stung my ankle. My first hobby sting. Those bees are pissed – did I mention that? OK, inner me has that car filled with bees while driving movie playing. “Maybe I’ll drive home with the veil on” starts flashing through. There is to much excitement to do anything but move forward. Bwhahahaha.
We loaded up the 2 nucs and some of my hiveware to keep things sort of tight and sort of stable. Turned on the AC to chill us all down, then said my Good night to Bill. What a great guy and cool bee mentor. Off we go back 38 miles from Wheaton to Chicago. I’m going to say this now before it comes up. Yes, I did drive with my gear still on, but no gloves and my veil was hanging partially attached and ready to slip down from on the headrest. I am a lone inexperienced padawan driving my wife’s turbo go-cart with lots of pissed off bees and then somewhere around the 290/294 change some more of Tim’s overheated girls decided the screen work and AC wasn’t enough. I cranked up the AC and readied the first side zipper for the veil. Mostly they stuck to the windows and seemed to meander back to the nucs. Every once in awhile one would crash into my head, but NONE stung me anywhere.
Traffic wasn’t as bad returning to Chicago, and I landed on Planet Tim about an hour later at 11:15ish. Planet Tim was still quite warm and humid near 80.
I checked my path through to the beeyard in the dark, (some alley light behind garages). Good enough, and minimal other choices at this time of night. I suited up, and opened up the mini. AC off and all windows down. Lights off. Opened hatch and observed a group of over 100 clinging outside Tim’s and about 20-30 in flight. Slowly and gently I removed each nuc and brought it into the beeyard. Each was set on respective readied stands. Had to step back after set down as transporting Tim’s proved that I hadn’t fully sealed my veil. First one came in and I tried to ignore it. Then a second. The first one decided it’s time to sting me on the nose. I backed off, pulled them out, and double checked myself before closing up. There was a small clump on my chest, so I gently brushed them away too. Properly sealed I went into the beeyard with flashlight, a bee tool, and knife. Yeah, I know could have fired up some smoke and puffed them, but it was late and I was getting tired. I moved in and opened up both nucs by removing first the Gorilla tape, then the screening on Tim’s. I straightened each on the stand, made sure there was no obstructions, then put a weight on the lids.
As I backed away, I heard a loud scampering sound. Looked up in the last Mulberry tree in the beeyard, there was a good sized opossum staring back at me. He was startled with the light on him. But after a long few seconds it became clear he was not really concerned by me being there. I gathered my gear, and cleaned out bees from the mini. There were a few smashed corpses and a few small clumps in the spare well. Tried to make sure my wife didn’t have any angry guests awaiting her next ride. Satisfied that it was 98% bee-free, I drove home for that relaxing beer Bill and I were musing over several hours ago.