People's Republic of Zollner

So the world DOES in fact revolve around Madeline Jane and Karis Anne Zollner!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

29,999 New Neighbors

Last weekend we accompanied my mom Linda down to Philomath to set up her beehives. She started two hives with two different varieties of honeybees. She also has mason bees, however they live in small boxes with holes drilled in them that are nailed to a wall. They do not sting, they are simply efficient pollinators that are nice to have around. Micah, our dog, came along for one last romp with Kona, my brother and sister in law's German Shepherd, who is staying with my parents until they get settled in Colorado. Micah and Kona absolutely ADORE each other, they play and run and jump and bark and have a blast until they both collapse exhausted.

On the way down we stopped to see my friend Toni and her adorable new baby boy Aidan. He is one handsome little man! But, while we were there Kona got a bit too excited on her way into the backyard and totally knocked me flat. 65 pounds of muscle mid-jump will do that to a person! At first I couldn't move my knee and was worried I had blown it out, but it is doing better now. But the shoulder I landed on could use some TLC still.... so there I was flat on my back unable to get up and my Mom and Toni were trying to manage the dogs who were now loose and going bezerk, the sleeping newborn, 7 1/2 month old Maddy, and 2 year old Kendra. Man do I know how to make an entrance!! Toni was very gracious and just took it all in stride, but I felt awful to create all this chaos for her. Just what every new mom needs! Our journey south continued after much ice and ibuprofen and we started the next day fresh and ready to go.... Maddy and I stayed way back and acted as photographers as Grandma Linda donned her bee suit and went to work. We decided to leave the dogs in the house so they wouldn't run apeshit through the hives and destroy all her hard work, not to mention get stung. 30,000 bees can pack quite a punch!After my Mom got the bees into their new homes we headed back to the house to let the dogs out, or so we thought.... those dumb dogs had actually managed to flip the deadbolt and lock us out of the house.... no keys, no phones, just me, Maddy, my Momand 30,000 of our closest friends. GREAT! We tried to break in but apparently we aren't quite as crafty as we would like to think. Luckily, my Mom remembered that one of the back windows didn't have a lock and managed to jimmy her way through with her hive tool. That is a funny mental image: my Mom climbing through a back window in her beesuit. The next morning we noticed that the bees had started to congregate rather tightly on the front of the Italian hive (they tend to be a more aggressive breed). This is not typical behavior and we became concerned as they slowly started to envelope the entire hive, a swarm-like behavior. Not good. But all the resource books assured us that bees rarely will swarm from a new hive. I made the brilliant suggestion that maybe they were just sunning themselves, but the innate beekeeper wisdom deep within my Mom told her otherwise. And sure enough a few minutes later they were up and gone. All 15,000 of them. My Mom yelled "You ungrateful bastards!! You didn't even give it 24 hours! I drove you all the way from frickin' Seattle and worried about you and gave you a beautiful new home and you frickin' swarm on me!!" I had to laugh, but we had a sinking feeling: so where did they go? The super helpful books (that had previously dismissed the idea of swarming so quickly) said they don't go more than 1,000 feet to find a temporary resting place until a new home can be scouted for. We crept around the property and couldn't find them. You wouldn't think 15,000 clustered bees would be that hard to find, but our hunt yielded no swarm..... however, we could sure hear them. The bee hum was impressive to say the least. Not too much later a man was walking down the road and stopped to ask for directions. We pointed him down the road and he went on his way. But not one minute later he was back and exclaimed "There are hundreds of yellow jackets all over the road!" With glee we shouted, "where where show us show us" practically jumping up and down. He must have thought we were possessed or something. Sure enough, they had landed just up the road, not 30 feet behind the ill-fated hive, amidst a thorny nasty patch of impossibly hard to get through blackberry brambles. Unbelievably though a beekeeping neighbor was brave enough to wade through the brambles, cut down the swarm, capture it in a box, and put them back in the hive which he made some adjustments to in order to prevent another exodus. WHEW! What a crazy day! All the bees tucked safely away in their new homes with only one sting resulting in 29,999 new neighbors at our country estate.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Krista said...

Wow! What an adventure!


Post a Comment

<< Home