Get Bees, Will Travel
We really wanted to set up a hive or two or more on the farm. I had four hives in Texas but they would have been a real challenge to move—much easier to get a nuc (small hive of 5 frames instead of the usual 8 or 10) and move it to Wisconsin. Some beekeepers move their bees all around the U.S. to pollinate various crops—it should not be a big deal. Right? So maybe not!
I had previously baked a nuc of bees in our hot Texas sun and worried about traveling with a nuc in the bed of my truck—no-way were they going to ride in the cab with me. Although I did have some friends who took home a hive in their car and had to wear their bee suits all the way home—all 30 miles or so. I had no intention of wearing a bee suit for 18 hours of driving.
My good friend and mentor provided me with a nuc with a nice opening on top—covered with hardware cloth providing plenty of air flow. The doorway was blocked with hardware cloth—lots of air flow—no baked bees.
We put the box in the bed of my truck and I started off.
I stopped to fuel up and noted a bee flying about the bed of my truck. I thought perhaps it had hitched a ride from my friend’s apiary.
I stopped again for fuel and this time there were about a half dozen flying about trying to figure out where they were. I could not see where they were exiting the box but it was quite obvious they were not bees that lingered around the gas station just coming over to make friends with the Texas bees.
So I started throwing a tarp over the top of the box whenever I stopped—hoping they would think it was bed-time and they would stay inside—I’m sure I really messed up their internal clock and they had so many more days and nights than really passed by in ordinary time.
I stopped for the night, threw the tarp over the box and registered at the motel. Did I have any pets? I said I had a box of bees in my truck but they would not be staying in the room with me. The clerk looked surprised and noted that they welcomed pets but maybe not honey bees.
I made it to the farm and unloaded them by the garage.
I felt the box and it felt warm. Bees maintain the internal temperature of the hive at about 93 degrees year round. In the summer, they sit outside the door and on top of box flapping their wings to move air—-and in the winter they huddle together like penguins in the Antarctic.
We pulled the entrance and immediately they flew out.
Did we keep enough bees in that box to maintain or make a hive? Or did I leave a trail of bees behind me?
I worried about those bees last night when a huge thunderstorm passed through—was the covering over the top enough to keep the rain out—or did that covering get knocked off in the wind?
I put my ear to the box and could hear them buzzing—they may have been discussing their plans for the day or trying to figure out just exactly what had happened—going to bed in Texas and waking up in Wisconsin with different flowers and different birds and different landscape and no nearby neighbors.
It seems silly to worry about a group of insects when I have no qualms about squashing cockroaches or dumping soapy water or poison in ant beds—