Though I planned to start beekeeping, the bees’ arrival wasn’t as expected.
I ordered a package of bees and a caged queen from a reputable source in Northern California to be flown in overnight on the day I’d planned: April 16. This would give me time to order bee suits, a hive box, and other supplies. But sometimes nature has other ideas. No sooner had I finished the order and rambled to my husband that one hive just wouldn’t be enough, and a spring swarm arrived and took up residence in the eave of an outbuilding we plan to soon demolish.
Accepting these feral bees as a gift, I spent the next few days watching their peaceful comings and goings. From the hive entrance, they buzz up and away to the back bank. There, they coat the tall purple flower stalks that grace the pride of Madeira plants that bloom so profusely this time of year. The bees gather pollen then zoom back to the nest. In these early spring days, sweltering heat hasn’t yet led them in droves to the small man made pond in the opposite direction. I’ve only seen a few on the rock fountain, where water softly trickles over moss in tiny, bee-perfect rivulets.
As we go in and out one busy side door to the house just a few feet from their adopted hive spot, the bees seem oblivious. And unlike the feral colony that once occupied the front wall, viciously guarding their hive, these bees don’t even mind the weed whip whirring nearby.
I have a good feeling. Despite the warnings that collecting a hive that has taken up residence in a wall or hollow tree trunk is not the best way to get bees – - particularly for beginner beekeepers – - I know that in time I will collect them, put them in a hive box, and hope for the best. For now, their nest in a narrow eave is closed off from the rest of the building. And I’m happy just to watch. I’ll wait, get my package bees then learn from the experience of installing that package into a hive box before breaking open the eave and collecting these gentle wild bees that have decided they like it here.