Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day Swarm

The swarm, resting in the apple tree.
That's 15,000 bees approximately!

This Mother's Day was pretty amazing. I was already happy with the day: breakfast with Laurent, then yoga, then riding the tandem with Joe to the Farmer's Market and meeting friends, then lunch on the patio. And then the best present of all appeared: a swarm of bees over the garage, which then proceeded to land in our apple tree from which we later captured them. Amazing!

Besides the super fun and excitement of hiving these wild bees and doubling our potential for pollination and honey now that we have two hives, some other great things came out of this:

- We learned more about our new bees' background from our neighbor Dave, who had observed them living on the neighbor-on-the-other-side's house for two years:
They used my pond as a water source and seemed to have a highway of sorts out over your roof... it looked like they were heading out towards the big berry patch farther out... but there were always bees in the garden.
So even though they're not exotic, in the sense of having travelled, it's still super-cool that we know exactly where they were before and that we also know that they weren't from a beekeeper's hive that split, but are truly wild bees. And actually, it's great news that they hadn't been swarming long since it means they're going to use all of those stores of honey that they gorged on before swarming to build comb inside their new home.

- We discovered that we're part of a cool community of bee-people now. I posted something to my Facebook about the swarm just after it appeared and we were getting ready to go get them, and my new beekeeping friend Rebecca and her adorable daughter Ruby responded instantly, and rushed over to help. After I posted an email message to the Marin beekeepers listserve, I got some amazing, helpful and charming responses by phone and email from fellow beekeepers, all of them strangers to us, and even found a long-lost acquaintance in the mix. One email in particular, which arrived after I shared with the list that we'd caught and hived the bees, read:

Congratulations, Ariane! What auspicious blessings for you! You must have had many lifetimes as a loving mother for this gift to appear now! Have fun giving them a new home!

I was already completely high on the experience of the swarm and its capture, and then had extended buzz from all the beekeeper love and support that poured in. Now that's sweet as honey!

So now we'll be settling in to managing two hives and are just thrilled with this gift that just fell out of the sky into our laps. It's probable that we'll see and catch another swarm. But a swarm just coming to us in this way? That's a once-in-a-lifetime blessing that we're savoring, every moment of that experience just vibrant like the bees.

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