Friday, April 1, 2011

Project on the Prairie

Backbone of Agriculture

Mrs. Pondero has a way of getting me involved in projects I otherwise would be satisfied in having as mere topics of discussion. You might say that I find her simply irresistible.

Bee Stuff in Pickup Truck

Some of our family and friends know that she's been gearing up to begin a honeybee project out here on the north Texas prairie. It began months ago with the research, ordering of the hive kit, assembly and painting of the hive, more research, ordering of the bees, and yet more research. That part of the project was actually becoming a little interesting. That part of the project didn't involve any encounters with actual bees.

Actual Bees (who I think are angry at being confined)

Today, however, was the big day. This was the day we encountered actual bees. The post office called Mrs. Pondero and asked her to kindly come fetch her bees. I was then told that WE would be transferring bees who had been confined, transported via postal service, and long since out of patience to their new home. How could that not be fun?

Almost Finished Bee Shading Apparatus

So we loaded up the bee stuff and and went out to the back corner of the property which has recently been rezoned for agriculture. Since that area doesn't have any trees, Mrs. Pondero thought it would be a good idea to build some kind of shade. We almost finished it before the bees arrived early. When was the last time I received a package EARLY? I understand now that I'll be finishing construction in a highly populated fly zone with no air traffic controller. I can't find words to express how much I'm looking forward to that.

Mrs. Pondero in Bee Suit

We didn't get any photos showing the actual transfer activity. But we did get this photo...which is me testing out the amazing zoom capabilities of our new Canon camera.

Basically, it was me reading instructions while Mrs. Pondero bravely saw front line action. We were all business. Well, mostly SHE was all business. As she poured bees from the shipping container into the hive, several decided to buzz around. So I read instructions at auctioneer pace, finished my job, and ran for cover. All I can say in my defense is that SHE was the one wearing the bee suit.

Several bees still in shipping container

Not every bee made it out of the shipping container. Most went in directly as desired. Several simply did not pour out as easy as the instructions suggested they might, and an astonishing number were buzzing around my head. All in all, however, Mrs. Pondero seemed satisfied that there were enough honey-making bees inside the hive for today. In fact, she said that there were several bees going IN to the hive as if they were being called by some separated buddy. So we took the tools back to the house.

Almost empty shipping container

After things calmed down a bit, we strolled back to check on things. We were pleased to see that almost all bees came out of the shipping container and (apparently) went in to serve their queen as expected. Or maybe they were just hungry and got a whiff of that half-gallon of sugar solution that was poured into the top feeder. Either way, it seems the transfer was largely successful.

Sweet sugary dreams, bees!

No humans were harmed as a part of this activity.


  1. That's serious business, Chris! I am impressed. I am been stung a few of times by bees and wasps, but I don't like to mess with them. So, Kudos to you guys!
    Peace :)

  2. Your throat must be sore this morning from yelling the instructions at your wife from such a long distance.

    Honey bees are fascinating creatures. And yes, they are a vital component to pollinating many crops. If Mrs. Pondero isn't already a member, there are beekeepers associations she could join to share her experiences with, and to learn from, other beekeepers.

    Good Luck!

  3. Thanks for the primer on transferring bees...I am still a year or two away from that task. Unfortunately I will bee the one in the suit...


  4. I'm very proud of the two of you - I don't have the nerve to be in the presence of bees....

  5. For a while, when he was a wee lad, every insect that my nephew encountered was a bee.

    "It's bee! It's a bee!" you would hear him screaming, as he raced across the yard with a butterfly in hot pursuit.

    I don't think that he would enjoy your beekeeping, even to this day.

    I find them fascinating. I once was lucky enough to actually see feeding bees "beelining" it back and forth from a field to their hive. I tracked them back to a hollow tree in the woods, and managed to get a little taste of the honey without being swarmed.

  6. This is going to be fun to watch! I bet the post office was in a hurry to get rid of that package.

  7. Chandra, thanks, but kudos should be directed only to the Mrs. She's awesome.

    Big Oak, ha!, you got that right.

    Aaron, I must admit those bees are fascinating critters. Best wishes for your set-up.

    jperkinscc, don't be proud of me. Feel sorry for me. I am such a wimp.

    Jon, they ARE fascinating! The activity around the hive is quite orchestrated.

    Rat Trap Press, yes, I think it will be interesting to watch. We'll probably post an update when something noteworthy happens.

  8. This is great! Looking forward to reading/seeing this process/progress!

    Just finished an Article in FoxFire Magazine

    explaining old traditions/instructions on beekeeping.

  9. Cool article, justinwayne, thanks for the link!

  10. Wow. I am somewhat afraid of bees. Enough that I would never in my right mind try something like this. Yes, my wife could talk me into it, though -- she's very persuasive! But usually, I'm the one with the hair-brained ideas ...

    You should definitely post some updates on how the bees are doing. I'm intrigued, and will enjoy hearing about them from a distance.