Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cleaning The Bee Yard

I knew we had a mess on our hands especially when another foot of snow fell last week burying our equipment deeper in the snow. When we went down to the bee yard two weeks ago to see how the girls were doing it was too much to face. Two hives standing with three boxes each,  three or more hive stands and a pile of equipment thrown behind the hives which was now frozen solid in place. None of it would budge. We agreed, we needed to come back another time with a shovel and more energy.

I was sort of dreading the task but it would give Paula and I time in the car to visit, catch up and hatch a plan for managing the equipment, especially the frames. I get completely overwhelmed just thinking about the frames.

We trudged through a foot of snow from the car to the bee yard, probably a good long city block, sinking into the snow. Each hive needed to be dismantled and all of it carried back to the car.

You can see the piles of dead bees, so very sad. We got as many of them out of the equipment as possible and left them to the land. If either of us were gardeners we would have taken them home for fertilizer.  It took a fair amount of work on Paula's part to shovel and pry the equipment out of the frozen ground but she did it, all of it. A few pieces of equipment are broken but they can be repaired.Once we got to the bottom of each box we discovered our fury little friends had returned and had taken up house,  nesting under the bottom board of each hive. Several mice darted out of the each nest, clearly disrupted by our work. Unfortunately we discovered a very recent casualty, most likely our doing.

Poor little guy, at least his nest mates made it out safely. We carried all of the boxes, full of frames with comb, honey and dead bees up to Paula's vehicle and loaded everything up. I must admit, 6 months ago this would have been an enormous physical undertaking for me but even Paula noticed how easily I lifted and carried the boxes through the snow and up to the car. 

Once we got home we moved everything to the porch while we organized the all ready over crowded workroom, making room for everything.

I remain overwhelmed but grateful to have this part of the job behind us. Paula is coming back on Thursday where we will spend the day tackling the rest of the equipment, scraping, cleaning, repairing and painting everything. After that we will simply have to face the chaos of the frames. I am trying to stay calm and focused, knowing it will all get done by April 4 which is my deadline for having every thing back in place in the bee yard to welcome four new packages of bees.

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