And the Bees

Reader Contribution by Marlena Chestnut Shifflett
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In addition to the new birds at Shifflett Farms, I have also begun my journey with honeybees. I have wanted bees for a long time and finally have the time (and the money) to get them. My adventure with honeybees got off to an interesting start. The bees were hauled from South Carolina to West Virginia in a horse trailer; during the trip a couple of boxes were damaged and the bees released.

When I went to pick up my two packages of bees, the outside of each box was covered with loose honeybees. A little apprehensive, I was assured that the hour and a half trip home would be fine; and so I made the trip home surrounded by honeybees exploring the interior of my car. After getting the bees home, I did a quick refresher on introducing them to the hive and got to work. I have to admit taking the “lid” off of 12,000 honeybees (a 3-pound package) is a rush that I will not soon forget.

At the end of the day, the bees were successfully introduced to their new homes. My advice to someone introducing bees to a hive for the first time:

1. Keep calm, and walk away if you have to.

2. Don’t expect for ANYTHING to go like it does in the video.

3. Wear your protective clothing, or at least something tight fitting (I wore a T-shirt and managed to squish a bee that found its way into my sleeve, a sting I definitely deserved).

4. You can do it, just remember once you get started there is no turning back (this helped to get me through!).

Since installing the bees, I have worked with the hives many times, mostly out of curiosity; bees require little maintenance, without any stings or issues. I love checking on my bees and seeing what they have been up to. Though I am never quite positive that I know what I am doing, the bees have nature guiding them along and don’t really need to much help from me anyway. I have found a local apiary association as well as the West Virginia Department of Agriculture apiary specialist to be very helpful in answering questions and providing reassurance. I can’t wait to harvest my first honey!

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