Honey Bees Are On The Way

It’s November 2018 as I rewrite this post from 2010. Again, I’m struck by how I talked like I knew what I was talking about even though I had no experience as a beekeeper. Luckily installing a nuc is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a great deal of experience to grasp. Most of what I wrote, even with no experience, seems accurate.

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster the wait is over. I just got a call confirming that I can pick up my honey bees in 2 weeks. It will cost $400 for two nuc packages and I’ll have to drive eight hours to get them, but at least I know I’m going to have honey bees for two hives this year. Nuff said.

Okay, so what’s a nuc package and how does it work?

This is a nuc package. To reduce confusion, let’s call it a nuc box, because that’s what it is: a small box that contains the nucleus of a honey bee colony. A nuc box typically holds 4 deep frames, several thousands bees and a mated queen. Three frames will contain a combination of honey, pollen and eggs, everything a colony needs to stay alive. One frame is usually left empty so the worker bees have something to work on while they’re stuck in the box during shipment to their new hive.
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My First Contact with Actual Honey Bees

It’s November 2018. I’m revisiting everything I wrote on this blog since 2010. When I’m embarrassed by what I see, I delete it or rewrite it. (I also don’t want to mislead anyone with idealised beliefs or half-baked ideas.) While there are a few things in this post that seem kind of silly now, I won’t change much. I’ll keep it as a record of where my thinking was before I had bees. But I’ll tell you right now what’s embarrassing. #1: “I could probably write a book about beekeeping…” I thought that probably because I spent a few too many years in university researching and writing and believing that that skill set qualified me to write a book and give advice about beekeeping. Oh, the ego.

This is the big one that many people seem to fall for. Zero experience with taking care of bees, but if I talk to other beekeepers and read enough about it and work it all out in my head, then of course I can advise people about beekeeping. Man, I could even write a book about it. Demonstrations of that kind of conceit are common in online forums, in beekeeping groups, in casual conversations with new beekeepers. And I wasn’t immune to it. I was wise enough, I hope, to eventually back off from it before I rubbed too many people the wrong way.

The few mentors who have made a difference to my beekeeping usually answer my questions by first saying, “Well, I don’t know, but this is what I do and sometimes it works.” I’m embarrassed by the general “Don’t worry, I got this” attitude in this post, saying idealised things like “let the bees be bees” and going out of my way to explain everything — like one does when one has little to no experience, sort of a beekeeping version of mansplaining. What a funny phenomena, one that I don’t think anyone fully escapes from thanks to the automatic adoration that comes with being seen as a Beekeeper with a capital B, as if it requires some kind of mystical connection to the universe to go out and buy some bees. But we have to play the part, right? Beekeeping is a peculiar dance with a siren song.

In any case, I’d much rather delete everything I wrote in this post, but let’s just go back to 2010 when I said…

I’ve researched everything I can about honey bees for the past year. I could probably write a book about beekeeping (or at least a series of detailed blog entries). But until now, it would have all been from a theoretical point of view because I hadn’t had any practical experience handling honey bees. And I’m beginning to think that after all the time and effort I’ve put into this, beekeeping is not going to happen for me this year. It’s been almost two months since I’ve heard from the one beekeeper in Newfoundland who might be able to supply with me some bees. I don’t know what’s happening, and subsequently I’m imagining the worst: they’re going to tell me tough luck, no bees for me this year. My beautiful bee hive may be collecting dust until next summer. I sure hope not.

At any rate, I got a little itty bitty bit of practice in last night when Aubrey Goulding at Paradise Farms let me take a peek inside one of his honey bee hives.

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