There was less swearing this time. Moving beehives is always an adventure but this one went fairly smoothly. Remember that the main nectar flow for the Triangle only lasts from March-May, which means the bees get bored, cranky, and/or hungry during summer. Part of our management program is taking advantage of NC’s expanded season by moving some of our hives back to the mountain where the Buck Naked name arose. These hives spent about a month in the High Country this summer soaking in the sourwood. “You just leave them there??” Yep. The property owners kept watch and we visited about every 2 weeks to check in. But bees prefer to be left alone with work at hand. One hive swarmed (our donation to the feral population), one produced a new queen (mountain girl genetics!), and all put up a nice surplus of honey.
“Oooh! You have sourwood honey!!” Well, probably. There wasn’t anything else blooming at the time. But to ethically label “Sourwood Honey” (or any other variety), honey must contain at least 51% of pollen from that flower source. This requires lab testing that we have not yet done. Yet. Maybe someday, but for now we label it as “Wildflower”.
Spaghetti and I were flying solo on this trip. Things were going fine with the ratchet strapping & loading until we realized that we were 1 strap short. (Mostly because Paul had secretly hidden all the straps in his own vehicle before gallivanting off to work.) But also because I had split a hive weeks before, we were bringing home 1 more hive than we started with. Doh! We managed to get all the big colonies into the car (revisit our transport strategy) but the last little one had to ride on the hitch basket. Normally not a problem. But we have to haul these heavy ladies up and down a mountain. Curvy-burvy roads. Plus it was 10pm. Spaghetti proposed a phone charging cord which I nixed because if it failed, I’d have no battery back up to call for the ensuing emergency.
We held our breath and crept up and back down the mountain at a snail’s pace with the hive unsecured. The late hour gave us some cover from the crazy-person stares that usually follow. Surely we could make it to Wilkesboro (closest town) carefully. And we did. But it should be noted that all farm and auto parts stores are closed after 10pm on Tuesdays in Wilkesboro- but not Walmart!! Relieved, tired, and hungry (we missed dinner) we stumbled into Walmart still clad in bee suits. Cue the crazy person stares. But no! Turns out that you can wear whatever you want to Walmart at 11pm on Tuesday and get no grief for it. Joy! We sauntered up to the checkout, giddy with having found the prized ratchet strap. Checkout girl not amused.
But we were delighted. We assembled everything properly and felt gutsy enough to take the hives through a drive-through. And order pie. But the sugar high only lasted so long and the rural Hwy 421 route quickly lulled Spaghetti to sleep. There were a few loose bees in the car (as usual) which kept things lively for me. There was a tense moment around Jordan Lake when I thought a bee was perched by my right eye. But after 30 minutes I realized it was only a piece of my hair fluttering in the a/c. We finally rolled into town about 2am.
So the farm welcomes the big girls home. They are reorienting, enjoying some goldenrod, and joining our other hives anticipating the imminent buckwheat bloom. Ok, not really. They are just collecting whatever they can find. The trip did result in less swearing, which is good or bad depending on your outlook. It has become my philosophy that when the swearing starts, the learning begins. (Not vocabulary – life lessons). Spaghetti and I agreed on several learnings for next year: truck w/ separate cab & lift gate , hive carrier, oodles of straps, & more pie.