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Dark deeds, done in the dead of night

There was a deep, visceral hum coming from the hives, the like of which I had never heard before. A double bass may be able to replicate the note, but not the intent – they were some unhappy girls. I have finally moved my hives to their new location, but it seems that they were not too impressed with being sealed up, lugged on to a trailer, and then bounced a dozen miles or so down the road. It seems an easy thing to do:

  • pick up the hives
  • put them on a trailer
  • drive to the new spot
  • put the hives in their new place

I could just have easily commented on operation Barbarossa:

  • invade Russia
  • capture the oil fields
  • capture the other stuff
  • rule the world.

Both lists factor out the inhabitants, who strenuously oppose enforced changes to their lives. I had a few dramas sealing up the hives, before I remembered a new roll of duct tape, still in the old garage – of course, trying to find the end of a roll of tape, in the dark, with the bees starting to go feral from my ineffective methods; needless to say, I am grateful that no minors were present to hear my expletives.

Another minor issue I came across was the weight – I recommend using cranes or trollies wherever possible when shifting more than just brood boxes – the honey supers are very, very heavy. Thankfully, I had anticipated this, and had a sack barrow (or hand cart) to help. Even so, wheeling the top heavy burdens of fury up the trailer ramps did require a little effort.

The hives were tied down well, to a paranoid level normally only applied to   Hannibal Lechter, and I slowly drove off. It was a relief to be able to take my gloves off in the truck, but I did have trouble with the level of sweat making the steering wheel very slippery. The drive was actually an anti-climax, and none of the apocalyptic visions from my mental rehearsal of the event came to pass – thankfully Murphy was off somewhere else in the Karma bus.

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Their new home, a sheltered site providing lots of morning sun, is nestled amongst flax and hebes, and all I had to do is pop the hives on to some waiting bricks. The trip down the ramp was quick, and I was thankful for ample body mass to counter the momentum of the hives as they raced down the ramps. A ticklish business well executed. For anyone wanting to try this sort of thing, I cannot stress the importance of using ramps or cranes – those hives would mean death to your back – a damaged back is one of the leading accidents in the beekeeping industry – take care of yourself.

Apple hive was simple enough (for a change), but olive hive had a different base design, and the brood box slipped off the base, suddenly exposing the girls to a blast of cold air.  Not good. That was about the point Beloved let out a little scream at the flurry of bees, and departed faster than a land mine victim. I had to remove the honey super to lift it back on, as the hive was just too heavy. Still, no damage done in the long run, and no real stings today, just a few ‘love tickles’ through my leather gloves.

All in all, a success. The key factors here were planning (including the advice of wiser heads that mine), adaptability, and ready access to all manner of tools. The man in charge of Barbarossa would have done well to consider these factors.

One comment on “Dark deeds, done in the dead of night

  1. I remember the first time we moved bees at night: it was a swarm we had caught earlier in the day. We only had to move them a few miles, but it was starting to rain and lightening, and I was afraid of getting my truck stuck with a bunch of bees on the back. It really did seem like a dark deed–good description.

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