Sunday, October 24, 2010

One time, I had these bees....

 It took me half the summer to move the green bin, where my bees had taken up residence, 
to it's new spot at the top of the hill in my front yard. 
I had to move it 6 inches every day.   This was a familiar sight as I came in from work in the afternoons; my sweet bees humming busily away in the lilac bushes they love so much...working, working, working.  I love those bees.
My family has been slightly less enamoured.  I was (happily) surprised at how supportive Erik was, all summer, when it came to the bee colony.  He NEVER complained about them, even when the green bin temporarily blocked the only walkway into our house.  We all trundled up the hillside, inching the bin along in the meantime, and there was no grousing or grumbling at all.  He thinks the bees made decidedly creepy house guests, so his general lack of ire was well and truly appreciated.  

I have so many pictures like this one, with my family shouting from the doorway about "the bees! the bees!  are the bees coming to get us?!?"  I never once worried that the bees would ever, ever harm or swarm or attack anyone.  Those were (yes, were) the sweetest, sweetest creatures.  

Do you know?  As I mentioned, I would come home after work and walk right into their busiest hours.  I would set my belongings down in the house, and come straight out.  I stood next to their bin every single day, and I talked to them.  I thought they would get used to me, the more I did that.  I can't say for sure what circumstances led to our ultra-peaceful co-existence; I can only tell you that I would often reach out and literally pet those bees...and they would let me.  

When we were in Los Angeles and DisneyLand, our housekeeper came by every couple of days and watered the gardens and moved the bees.  It is ridiculous how happy I was to see my bees when we got back in mid-August!!!  I was so happy to see them, swarming and collecting and bearding and carrying on, all the bee-goody-bee-ness that I had become addicted to.

Then we had a blistering heat wave.  And the honeycomb collapsed into the bin. And I frantically called my bee whisperer, who was on vacation in Canada.  What's that all aboot?  She said she'd call when she came back in a few days.  And she did.  But it was too late.

For a few days, it seemed like all was seemed not to affect them at all!  The bee whisperer had already explained that we'd have to (carefully) cut up the honeycomb to move it, with the queen installed, into the new hive, so I thought maybe, maybe there was a chance that they would be fine.  As long as the queen hadn't died in the collapse, they would be fine.

Within a few days, though, with a sinking heart, I knew it was over.  I came home from work, and there was one bee walking on top of the can.  And no other bees in sight.  With tears in my eyes and dread in my heart, I carefully lifted the lid to find...nothing.  No bees.  

Oh, how I cried.  I cried mostly because I knew that this meant my bees would soon be, if they weren't already, dead.  They wouldn't survive after they abandoned their hive.  The one thing I wanted, all along, was that the bees not die.  I was so afraid of killing them!  I can't say that anything I did caused this to happen...nature can be so cruel, without my help...but of course I couldn't help but feel responsible.  They were counting on me; I let them down.

It was many days before I could even talk to Erik about it.  And, obviously, it hurts me deeply still since it's been more than 7 weeks and I can still barely write about it here.  When I talked to Erik, he was so sweet...he even said we could try for another hive in the spring.  Not too shabby, coming from a guy who had no interest in being an accidental beekeeper.
 Those sweet, sweet bees left me a beautiful gift, of their gorgeous honeycomb.  I asked my bee whisperer why some of it was so dark (was that a sign that there was sickness in my hive all along?) and she told me, "That's from their feet, where they walked on it and used it over and over for their nursery."  It broke my heart to hear that (their feet!  oh dear) and it breaks my heart all over again to write it down.  

But I loved those bees.  I love those bees.  And even though their disappearance was a huge, unbearable loss for me, I can't imagine never having had them at all.  I'm so grateful to those visitors who chose us.


  1. oh my gosh. i am sooooooo sad. i am sorry....

  2. Ah Mia, I feel so bad for you. You really should set up some proper supers and start again since you love it so much.

  3. Oh! I'm so sorry to hear about the bees. I know how much you loved them.

  4. I'm so sorry, Mia. But...I can't tell you how relieved I am. Whew. I was so worried about you guys! However, I still wish you had your bee's back. Love you. Tracy