It’s good to have friends.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. There was the week long blog tour and I think the book is selling, well, ok. I’m getting very positive and encouraging feedback from reviewers, but it can be very frustrating trying to get the word out. Still, it’s always good to get positive reviews.

It’s that time of year when the fruit trees begin to bloom. You would think they would know better than to come out while we still have frosty nights. 21 degrees last night and some more to come before warming in mid-week. So we help out the best way we know how. I’ve been stringing Christmas lights – yes I do know its April – on the apricot, nectarine, peach and plum. At night we light up the neighborhood like the fourth of July. We use the lights to warm the air around the trees, preventing the frost from killing the flowers. These are the older large bulb lights, not the little twinkle lights so common today. It really does work as we’ve had peaches even after nights in the single digits.

Yes, if you were to drive by you would see we look quite festive.

Last friday we made the trip over the mountains to Eugene. Beautiful day and wonderful drive. At the Glory Bee company site we picked up five packages of bees. Four for us and one for a friend. You can order two and three pound packages of bees. These were all two pounds packages. You can’t help but be amazed at these tough little critters. They are shaken from a hive in a commercial bee yard, into a funnel that directs them into a box. The box is wire mesh and contains a can of feed for the bees to use. A queen (not the queen from the hive they were taken from) is caged in a box a little bigger than your thumb. The bees in the package cannot get to her as they would likely kill her. They need a few days to get used to her pheromone and accept her. Worker bees attend her through the screened cage she is in, and she is be fed that way.

We got home with them about noon and I began installing them in new hives. In the middle of each package is a can of feed and when you remove it you can also remove the queen cage. At the same time about 9,000 to 10,000 bees are looking to escape the cage. (So when I say its good to have friends, I mean we just had about 40,000 new friends arrive this weekend.) I cover the opening while placing the queen cage in the new hive. Then you literally pour the bees from the package into their new home. They will immediately look to free the queen from her cage because by now they realize they are queenless.

Before placing the queen in the hive I remove a cork from one end of her little cage and replace it with a piece of candy. (a gummy bear) The bees will chew through the candy to release the queen. In the time it takes them to chew throught he candy (usually a couple of days) they have had enough time to get used to her scent and accept her as their queen.

So I am in the waiting period. You need to leave them alone for at least three days and not disturb them. Tomorrow will be the third day and it will be cold outside. I will wait until Tuesday before opening up the hives to see if the queen has been released. If she has not been released by then I will release her into the hive myself. Check back on Tuesday for an update.

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