A Lesson in Bee Negotiation

:: in which we learn from our mistakes ::

This week* I installed my very first hives of honeybees. I had one box of bees for each hive, as seen here. The idea is to dump the bees into the hives and get them situated to move into their new homes and accept their new queens. If all goes well during this process, the colonies will be established and the expensive bees won’t fly away.

Chilled out bees straight from the post office.


As exciting as the big day was, things didn’t go exactly as planned and I wish I had done a few things differently. It was more chaotic than I would have liked, and there were a lot of tears and a small amount of hyperventilating. If I could do it over, I would give the bees advance written notice of my expectations for the day, so things would go more smoothly.

Jessica’s Instructions to Bees for Move-In Day

Listen up, bees. You’re about to move into your new homes. We all want this to go well, so cooperate with my demands and no one will get hurt. I promise you will like the hives we got for you.

Rule #1 in this business, no climbing on the inside of my pants. That is majorly distracting. The insides of my clothing are off limits, forever.

Tucking pants into socks is a lesson learned the hard way.



#2: When I spray you with sugar water, sit still and stop flying around. You’re not supposed to be able to fly when your wings are wet. Don’t try to be a hero.

#3: When I shake the box upside down over the hive, come out for Pete’s sake. Don’t just hang out in the package like you’re paying rent. The more I have to bang that box around, the grumpier we will all be.

I never want to shake a box of bees again in my life.


#4: That queen I gave you cost a lot of money, so I don’t want to hear any more of this “I want to eat you alive” business. Be nice to her!

The queen in her protective cage, with worker bees trying to kill her. After three days, I removed the cork and let the queen out. By this time, the bees had acclimated to her and accepted her as their queen.


#5: My veil is a piece of clothing as per rule #1. No climbing on the inside of my veil. That is not cool.

#6: If I can’t get the frames straight because you are clumped up underneath them in a big heap, that is going to be your problem to sort out.

#7: Please, please, please do not kill your queen. Seriously, I don’t want to order a new one.

Success! The bees are moving in.


*And by “this week” I mean last May. Because I should have posted this eight months ago. Shame on me!

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