We finished the Kenyan Top Bar Beehive just in time! Ray and I built our own Kenyan Top Bar Beehive with plans given to us by Master Gardener Kim at one of her workshops we attended on beekeeping. The plan was simple and easy to follow. Now all we needed were some bees!
I had ordered the bees from Olivarez Honey Bees via phone a few months in advance. While on the phone I was given the choice between the Italian or the Carnolian variety of bees, but I wasn’t sure which one to go with. I told the order taker that we were first time beekeepers and I had a fear of being stung, so I wanted the most gentle bees possible. She said both varieties are gentle. Then I told her they would be at 3,000 foot elevation and would have to withstand a little bit of snow now and then, but hot and dry summers. She said both varieties were excellent for the situation I described. I told her we would be using the Top Bar Hive system and would be beekeeping organically. She said either one would be great for a top bar hive. So with the Italians and the Carnolians being fairly equal, I decided to go with the Italians. It was easier to say.
The day arrived to pick up our bees. We had about a 2 hour drive to get to the ranch holding the bee day and we wanted to get there early.
Parking was a breeze in the large cow pasture next to the event. We were offered free coffee and donuts (yes, please!) and then set about exploring and mingling. Ray and I sat at a table to enjoy our morning snack and met a very nice lady who was there to get her second package of bees from Olivarez, as she was very happy with the package she got last year. Another couple we talked to were getting their first package of bees, but had been helping a neighbor with his bees for years and enjoyed it so much they decided to get some of their own. When I asked if they had ever been stung and how many times, they answered “of course” but that it was “their own fault”. I ask this question a lot and I get the same sort of answer a lot. I am petrified of getting stung, so I want to know every detail of why, how and what happened when I hear someone else’s story. Usually their answer is something like “I got too close to the hive entrance” or “I was working too quickly and hit the hive with my elbow”, or stories similar to that. Then they would tell me, “it hurts (not gonna lie to you) but only for an hour or so”.
Well, alright then. I’m probably going to get stung.
Everyone was so friendly and happy to have us there as customers, and the whole process was very smooth! They found my name, saw that I had ordered one package of Italians, and that it was already paid for with my bank card. I was given a receipt and told that I can pick up my bees at any time, but she said most people get their package after lunch. Cool!
There were also several vendors at the event. Mann Lake, ltd had a large retail area under the huge circus-like tent. They brought just about anything a beekeeper would need. We looked at their books and browsed through some of their equipment. Most of their equipment was for Langstroth hives but we did buy some gloves, a smoker, and some bee food. We had previously purchased our bee suits online.
Another vendor was the Chico Honey Company, and they had some very delicious honey to purchase, along with t-shirts, honey paraphernalia and such. There was also a kid’s area with face painting. Maybe next year when we get another package of bees we can take our grandchildren. I think they would really enjoy the day.
I also have to show you this beautiful quilt they had hanging at the venue. Isn’t it just the cutest thing?
After eating our donut (s) and drinking a few cups of coffee (it was really good), it was time to watch one of the demonstrations.
One of the Olivarez Beekeepers gave a very thorough and informative demonstration on how to install your bees into your hive. He made it look just a bit too easy, but then he is a professional. I was very glad to hear a lot of his tips, such as to spray your bees with sugar water because it makes them happy and less likely to sting or fly and also to avoid installing the bees when it is dark because they don’t fly in the dark, have to crawl, and are more prone to sting out of fear. After the morning demonstration, we had a little more time to browse the vendors and mingle with other beekeepers, then a hot dog barbeque lunch was served!
It was finally time to get our bees and go home. All we had to do was hand our receipt to one of the bee guys, who promptly disappeared into the barn. Seconds later he came out with our package of Italian honey bees that included one mated queen and three pounds of worker bees! Here they are…
We Have Bees! Stay tuned for the installation!
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