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Drunk bees!

Hello all, NBB here.

Yesterday was a pretty shining example of why, three (?) years into this process, I’m still the junior beekeeping assistant, the Barney Fife of the apiary world.

To get everyone up to speed: the bees needed to be fed, Sharon has to work, Neil is out of town, Hans is out of town, and Lorraine is sick as a dog. Which left me. Now, the last time I was sent off alone to check on the bees it was a comedy of errors, if by “comedy” you mean “it’s funny because it happened to someone else.”

This mission, however, was a simple one: feed the bees. I didn’t have to switch boxes, combine any hives, or search for the queen. Just feed the bees by mixing sugar and water in a pail, then add the pail to the hive. A job so simple, an idiot could do it.

Which is why they sent me.

It was a cold day, about 44°, which meant the hives would be less active, they tend to stay inside and cluster for warmth. I got there in plenty of time, figuring to take about an hour to make the sugar water solution. Small problem:

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The sugar, having been left in the garage all summer, was not so much as “easy pour” as more of a “solid brick.” After chipping away at the bags, I was able to produce several manageable chunks and also a large mess. So after about an hour I had five pails full of sugar water.

Too bad we have six beehives. Sigh… what can I say? Math is hard! Back to the house to make another pail, then back down to the hives.

Amazing, the bees were still alive by the time I got to them.

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We didn’t get as much honey as we were expecting this year. I wonder if the wetness of the season had something to do with this, or the fact that we had eight hives competing for pollen rather than two.

Regardless, the remaining hives seemed full. And thirsty…

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For reasons that escape me now, I had to reopen one of the hives after I put the pail on. I noticed one of the bees had gotten splashed with the sugar water, making her the most popular girl at the dance.

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Her wings were sparkling.

We’re heading towards the end of bee season. Soon we’ll be taking the hives down to two or three brood boxes (filled with honey, which the bees will eat over the winter). We’ll wrap the hives in insulation, put the entrance reducers on (to keep out mice and other pests that would make a honey-filled box a winter home), and that’ll be that. We’ll sneak down in the winter and press our ears to the side to make sure they’re alive, dreaming whatever winter dreams bees have.

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