There are 58,000 bees in the basement.
It’s the end of March. We turned the clocks to “summer time” two weeks ago. Last week the vernal equinox made it officially spring. Today we took delivery of four new packages of bees.
And it’s snowing.
At 9 a.m. we head to Snyder’s Apiary in Whitehall, windshield wipers brushing snow from the glass. The car thermometer reads the outside temperature as 28 degrees. Out at the apiary, the countryside is dusted white and snow “flurries” blow sideways in the wind, whipping our faces. Beekeepers in winter coats greet one another with snide remarks about the great weather.
Why, you ask, are we getting bees when it is so cold outside? Because one orders bees weeks in advance and the Snyders drive down to Georgia on a scheduled day to pick up the orders in a truck. The bees have arrived. We have already paid for them. We must take them home.
Junior Beekeeper comes with us this morning. He helps carry the bees to the car. They take up the entire back seat. A few Klingons (“cling-ons”) try to hitch a ride too, but without the advantage of the warm group hug in the bee boxes, they won’t last long. Sure enough, back home, when the boxes are removed from the car, a few motionless bees remain on the back seat.
Alas, it is too cold to put the new bees in their hives. Tomorrow will be better and the rest of the week will be perfect, with temps in the 50’s and sunshine. So for now, 58,000 girls (and a very few guys) will have a little sleepover in the mancave.
Conditions downstairs are almost ideal. The mancave is heated only by a woodstove. With no fire going, the temp is 55. And the only light is from the door. With the overhead lights off, it is both cool and fairly dark. A few bees buzz at the screens of the boxes but, for the most part, the bees quietly huddle around the caged queen and a can of sugar water.
They can’t get out. Really.
The bees can stay in the package boxes for up to five days. That includes the time they spent traveling from Georgia. Today is probably day three. If this cold weather were to last all week, we would have a dilemma on our hands. Fortunately, it won’t, so we don’t. BeeMan has enough to do prepping the hives for the new residents. Cleaning out the Room of Outer Darkness to install a temporary apiary is not on the Honey Do List.
Tomorrow the bees will be installed in their new homes–outside in the bee yard where they belong. Maybe then we can pronounce the beginning of spring.