Monday, May 18, 2015

how I got a swarm of bees.

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

Well, life throws surprises at you sometimes.

Bees. Everywhere. This picture does not do them justice.
On Thursday afternoon, I went over to my mom's house. At 3:30 pm, when I got there, everything was normal.

When my BFF left to go home at 4, I walked her to the front door, opened it up, and just stopped.

The whole yard was buzzing with bees.

We just stood there for a moment, shocked. I was personally wondering if this was for real. But it totally was for real. There were thousands of honeybees all over my mom's front yard. It was like that scene from Jupiter Ascending or something.

So we went through the back door and walked around the whole house to get my friend back to her car, and I took a picture of the madness. All the little dots are bees:

It's hard to see, but to the left of the white flower
is where they are. They kind of look like a
pineapple. All the bees are on top of each other.
Then I went inside and waited. By 5 pm they were settled into a spot near the rhododendron bush:

And in the meantime, I was just busy researching what they were doing there and how long they would be there.

My research indicated that the bees were swarming--trying to find a new home. Often they only hang out where they are for a few hours, so they would probably leave soon. I thought to myself: I hope they leave soon!

All that night, I dreamed about trapping and killing skunks with my cousin. This actually matters to the story.

The next morning, I woke up after all my skunk-killing dreams, and had a text from my mom: the bees were still there. I sent out an email to the local beekeeping association asking what they thought I should do, and then it hit me: maybe these bees were meant for me. At this point, it was about 8:30 am. I decided that if these bees were for me, as sort of a divine gift, then I would easily find a beehive for a reasonable price before noon, and I would be able to easily harvest the swarm without injury. Seemed like a reasonable conclusion to me!

My dream beehive from Aunt Bea's Bees. I almost bought one
at last year's fair but I stopped myself, thinking: who do I think
I am, a beekeeper! But I guess it was just not the right time.
I shot off an email to some beehive makers I met at the Waterford Fair, which, PS, is fantastic. In a miraculous turn of events, the guy there wrote me back almost instantly, stating that he miraculously had the exact beehive I wanted left over from the last craft thing they went to, and he would sell it to me at a discount. And he had the gear I would need, too.

So I got the kids in the car and we dashed off to meet him--the guy who runs Aunt Bea's Bees. We made it to the town in record time. We spent about twenty minutes there acquiring the beehive and the equipment. In another random and miraculous turn of events, it had turned out that earlier on Thursday morning, I had gone to the bank to deposit a few checks. The kind yet completely clueless or deaf worker at the bank did not deposit my checks, and instead handed me an envelope of cash and I decided to just roll with it. However, when it came time for me to pay for the equipment, it was exactly the amount I had originally had ready in my envelope.

An actual meme I found on the internet.
Before we left our friend from Aunt Bea's Bees, he warned me about skunks eating the bees. I told him, you'll never believe it, but I literally dreamed all night about killing skunks--and just two weeks ago or so, a friend seriously gave me her skunk trap. I have never even seen a real live skunk except maybe at the zoo. I took it as another sign that I was on the right track. Even my subconscious mind has been preparing for the task of protecting honeybees! Even from threats I didn't even know were threats; threats I have never seen.

We rushed home and at first I was stressed about it, because I knew sometimes swarms only last a few hours before they move on in search of their new home. But I had this Holy Ghost moment that reminded me that the bees were mine and if I really believed that, I could calm down a little bit because they would certainly be waiting for me. They were my present.

So I said a prayer of gratitude as I made it home even faster than I made it to the neighboring state in the first place. My BFF met me at my mom's house and graciously watched the kiddos while I suited up and got to work (so for the record, that dear dear friend of mine gets half the credit for all of this!! Couldn't have done it without her!!).

Getting the swarm into the hive was tricky and took me many tries. At first I tried to brush the bees in with a bee brush, but after the first time I did that, they caught onto my tricks and just started flying back to the branch they were on. It didn't take me long to realize I was going to need to cut the branch of the bush they were on and put it in the hive.

Pregnant me and my new beehive! Once again,
the random dots around are bees.
Except the branch was an inch around and our loppers were not very good, and I am very pregnant and not as strong as I wish I were. There were so many bees on the branch I had to keep brushing them away from the area I needed to cut, and then I just had to strain to make a dent in this silly branch.

Then I was reminded: these were my bees! I just needed to ask for help. So I said another prayer and said, God, if these are really my bees that You sent me, then You know I will need Your help to cut this branch because I am just not strong enough to do it alone.

And then on the next try I was able to cut through the thick branch, and handled it right into the beehive.

I had also placed a tissue with one drop of lemon oil and one drop of citrus bliss oil (both from doTerra) in there because I had read that the queens smell kind of like lemons so bees are attracted by that scent.

Anyway, it totally worked, and I put the lid on the hive one glorious piece at a time, and was thrilled to see that now bees were voluntarily entering the hive through the one entrance I left open, instead of trying to leave it. There was a final batch of bees about the size of a child's head left on the bush, and I decided to give them an hour before I plugged the hive up all the way. The hour came and went, and when I went back outside, there were only a few bees on the branch and most of them were in the hive.

So I plugged up the one entrance and moved the hive down to the side of the house to sit in the shade while the bees got used to their new home.

Beehive from behind, on its cinderblock towers.
On Saturday morning I went with my dad to Home Depot and got a few cinderblocks. We built two cinderblock towers for the beehive to go on in the back of the house, and once the beehive was settled there, I mixed them up some sugar water and set it near. Then, as we neared the 24-hour mark from when I first caught the bees, I unplugged the hole. No bees came in or out for a while. After a time, my dad and I wondered if the bees were even in there, since we looked through the observation panel and only saw like five bees. I lifted up a roof panel in the back of the hive, and yep, there were like 5000 bees. So I had to quickly put the panel back!

That afternoon, we weathered a severe thunderstorm, and I thought how grateful I was that the bees were safe in their new home. Actually, this whole time I have been about bursting with gratitude. But I was really grateful then! Notably, though, the bees that stayed out by the rhododendron bush through the storm were still there this morning, and my mom said that their little bodies seemed to almost repel the water. So that is interesting.
Hive from above.

On Sunday morning, the hive was quiet, apparently, but when my parents started poking the hive to see if anything was in there, some guard bees came out and got stuck in my mom's hair. The bees were indeed there! By afternoon, when I went to check on them after church, they were very busy. Bees all over the place, coming in and out of the hive. Lots of guard bees. It was pretty cool.

So I'm pretty sure my bees are here to stay, and I am thrilled. I have been so grateful and so happy. What an awesome present.

This year had been kind of a difficult one for me so far, but lately things have just been getting progressively more and more awesome. It's like God is saying, thanks for putting up with all that yucky stuff, here are a bunch of presents for you for dealing with the insanity. Suffice it so say: everything is awesome, and God knows each of us and loves us all, and He has all sorts of presents in store for us.

Sometimes the presents He sends are not obvious. Sometimes they come with stingers! And sometimes to collect the presents, you have to put on your bee suit, say your prayers, and get to work. I wouldn't have gotten these bees if I hadn't been willing to drive across the state, and then personally be the one--while entering the third trimester of pregnancy!--to collect them and move the hive. But all the work was worth it and I am so happy and grateful for my thoughtful present. Wahe Guru!

Is that an aura around my beehive? ;o)
Oh, also: a bee did actually get stuck in my hood while I was collecting the swarm. I think it got in there when the elastic around my "waist" got moved around by my pregnant belly. But, when I felt that these bees were my present, I knew that I would not be harmed harvesting them--that safety was another part of the gift. I was not stung. I was able to get the hood off safely and the bee left without leaving me her own present. Actually, I have left this whole experience feeling very strongly that at least my personal honeybees are very friendly little creatures.

In bee-related energetic news, here is an article from a fellow LDS yogini on bees and prana. It appears that bees can actually sense the electric fields that surround flowers--at least according to Phenomena, hosted by National Geographic. Yay bees!

In bee-related scriptures, both the Jaredites and the Nephites brought bees with them to the promised land. Very cool. Definitely feeling the love right now. Thanks, Heavenly Father! That was the best present!!


  1. I LOVE this! I actually saw something you posted on Facebook a few days ago and thought, "those bees came to Ali on purpose! They want to be adopted by her." So so cool! I'll totally buy honey from you when you get a surplus. :)

  2. What a great story. Thanks for the blog