After months of back and forth with Hilary the bee girl (The Girl Next Door Honey) and trying to schedule a good day to get our bees, they have arrived! At 8:30 Friday night, Hilary drove up in her white Prius, filled with bee supplies and two bee hives, and the first thing she said as she walked up was…”we have a bit of a problem.” Not the first thing I’d necessarily want to hear from the bee expert, but OK. Apparently she had what she called a “bee leak.” Bees had escaped and had clumped onto the side of their hive. In her car. While she was driving.
First of all, I can’t believe that she had driven almost an hour to get to my house from Imperial Beach (where the hive had been residing) with two hives in her back seat -- but with a leak too! This woman is made of steel...my admiration for her as a badass beekeeper has skyrocketed.
The problem now of course is -- how do we transport a leaking hive down the hill to their designated spot without getting stung too many times. Hilary has her bee suit of course, but the hive is really heavy and she had been counting on our help. We come up with a plan -- if we can just get the hive out of the car and over to the wheelbarrow, we can slowly wheel it down the hill. And by “we” I mean Hilary and Mark. He volunteered to hold the other end, with a sturdy pair of gloves and a desire (perhaps?) to make up for all of the times he harassed bee hives as a kid. I step into the background, to stay out of their way, and watch as they carefully heave the hive out of the Prius. A couple of bees break off of the clump and start swarming around the garage light with an angry buzzing. After a few careful steps over to the wheelbarrow and a gentle landing, the two of them head down the hill with me and a flashlight leading the way. Hive number one is put in place with no incident and we head up the hill to retrieve hive number two. Hive number two is retrieved from the Prius, gently placed in the wheelbarrow, taken down the hill, put in place and we’re all set.
Hilary gets a bottle of oil from her car to put in the bowl-like footers of the hive to keep ants away from the honey and we discuss how to get an accessible water source for the bees so that they don’t feel compelled to raid our neighbors’ pools. Suddenly I hear a very angry buzzing near my ear and Hilary says “You’ve got a bee in your hair -- come here and let me find it so it doesn’t sting you.”
Now granted, one of the questions Hilary asks before she places a hive is ”How do you feel about bee stings” and I answered “I have no problem with them.” But the last time I had been stung was in high school, on my foot, when I had stepped on one. I have never had an angry bee trapped in my hair before. So although I am desperately wanting to jump around and/or start running, I don’t. Because I want to be a badass beekeeper/host like Hilary. It takes great self-control for me to stand there and let her look for the bee in my hair as I hear it getting angrier and angrier.
Then comes the sting. The little critter had fallen into my shirt and landed at the top of my chest and so that’s where she stung. And THAT’S when I started dancing around a little trying to flick her off. I am not a badass like Hilary. I am a bee wimp. There was no stinger so it didn’t hurt too badly, but I went inside to take a look, try to regain my composure, and put a saliva/baking soda mix on the sting, at Hilary’s suggestion.
However, once inside, I could still hear the bee! So NOW I started freaking out. I ran through the house thinking it was following me, I flipped my hair around, I twirled around and ran through the house some more -- but the buzzing was still there. Hoping desperately that 1) I could get away from the bee and 2) that badass beekeeper Hilary wouldn’t see me through the window, I continued to twirl, and run and flip my hair. But the angry buzzing followed me everywhere.
Finally, Mark came in, saw me running around, made me stop, found the bee hanging onto my pants, and put it out of its (and my) misery. And at that moment, Hilary came in with a big jar of honey.
So my initiation was complete -- 1 bee sting and 1 jar of honey. I am officially a member of the bee hosting community, albeit a wimpy one. But a happy one!! Just think of the beautiful lavender influenced honey we will get in a year or so!
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife, English teacher, writer, and lavender farmer who lives in Dundee Oregon .