Boy-howdy! This week has been an intense, gauntlet-esque feat of bee-ness! I’m just a little guy in regards to the process of transporting bees all over the dang place. I know folks that have been doing this for far longer than me with far more bees and over far longer distances are going to think I sound like a lightweight….and by all accounts they would be right, but man (!) this week of running bees everywhere has me really fried! I don’t know how some of you big shot beekeepers out there do it!
My adventure started mid-week when a young Florida beekeeper named Mark Negley trucked up with his father with the back of his pick-up filled with nucs for me, my good buddy Tim O’Neal and some other beekeepers who had been feeling the pinch of all of these crazy package delays. Nucs were the only way many of us felt like the bees we bring in could build up enough to take advantage of the nectar flow and overwinter successfully. As I write this, I am still waiting on packages that I should have gotten in early April. It’s likely that I will have to combine them this fall because It’s doubtful they will build up enough to overwinter without copious amounts of fussing over, which I simply don’t do. But I digress….the important thing is, we got these nucs in and set them down at the Red Hook Community Farm run by Added Value overnight. These bees travelled a long way and deserved a break.
The next day I sorted all of my gear, made phone calls and had planned to take all of the nucs up to Tarry Market and Newton Farm by myself….and in the back seat of my car that likes to make a habit of breaking down. I needed someone to tell me that I was crazy and that it wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately for us all, I found that person and subsequently the world was spared one of my absurd, spastic freak outs.
I made a new friend last week in a neighborhood dude named Daniel Pippenger. He built the raised beds at Francis Perkins Academy …you know, the Automotive High School on Bedford Ave with the amazing looking vegetable garden in front of it. Yeah, well that guy totally saved my ass in a tremendous way this week. Not only did he take me to the vet to get my sick cat, but he volunteered to help me truck (or station wagon, as it were) about 80,000 bees (small potatoes, I know) upstate overnightwhere we proceeded to haul them up VERY precariously placed ladders on rooftops, finally settling in at Newton Farm at about 4 am. Dude seriously rules. He’s gonna be my new bestie whether he likes it or not. He might be posting here about his adventures in homebrewing. Stay tuned for that.
Once at the farm we set the closed up nucs in the barn to wait until sunrise. I slept for about 2 hours and got up with the sun to set the bees loose on their new territory. It was damp and misty that morning so there was little activity coming from the nucs at first. Then at around noon, we all went out to check on them and they were flying like crazy, countless foragers bringing in baskets full of bright yellow and orange pollen. It was a thing of beauty…almost enough to make me give up on urban beekeeping all together. I NEVER see that amount of pollen coming in on my Brooklyn bees. Am I doing city bees a disservice? That remains to be seen.
(Pretty as a picture…The hives of Newton Farm in West Kill, NY.)
After we transfered the bees from nuc to hive at the farm, we skeedaddled down to Tarry Market to get those girls in there new hives. Note the footprints on the side. We had to stand on the deeps to get through the window to the roof where the bees are situated. Rooftop beekeeping can be kinda crazy sometimes.
(Team Mario and Team Joe, ya hurd?)
After the bees at Tarry Market were situated, we wolfed down tasty speck sandwiches and iced coffees, and hit the road again. Daniel dropped me off at home and went off to whatever wonderful rock he crawled out from under and I slinked into my PJs and fell into bed with my kitties and my man, totally exhausted mentally and physically. Phew!
The next morning, I went over to the Brooklyn Kitchen to get their shiny new bee hive into place. Loving these new bees so far!
Bees are kind of a big deal, dontcha think?