We fixed up a big pot of sugar syrup for the new bees, and I held it in my lap as we drove back to our bee yard (if two hives qualify as a bee yard). The uphill road is rough and bumpy, and before we’d gone fifty feet, the stuff started to splash out of the pot. At fifty-one feet I asked the Goat to stop the truck so I could walk the rest of the way.
Carrying a pot full of anything up a rocky hill in the dark is difficult at best. With a three-quarter ton, four-wheel-drive, Ford Super-Duty diesel pickup truck rumbling along a couple of yards behind your knickers, it’s practically impossible. It requires keeping the pot level and staying far enough ahead of the truck to avoid getting bumped yet close enough to see where you’re going. It is a skill set I do not possess, and by the time I got to the bee yard, I was even stickier.
Since we’d dumped the swarm straight into a hive box, all we had to do was remove the straps we’d used to secure it on our way home, place the hive box on its stand, pop open the lid and inner cover, pour what remained of the sugar syrup into the bee feeder, replace the cover, and leave the bees alone for the night. Bees are inactive once it gets dark so this was easy. It wasn’t so easy getting the sugar syrup out of my clothes and the inside of the truck.
The next day we checked on the rescued swarm. The forager bees had found the substitute pollen we put out when nature doesn’t provide enough flowers, and the more industrious ones carried “saddlebags” of the golden powder on their back legs. The guard bees inspected every bee coming into the hive, and while nobody from the older hive flew over with a welcome wagon of honey, neither had they declared war on the new guys. So far, so good!
Beekeeping for Dummies warned us not to open the bee hive for inspection for at least a week.
We lasted eight days. We held our breath as we lifted the top off the hive. What would we find: 100% of the bees we rescued? 50%? Possibly even–gasp–0 %?
We let our breath out. We had all the bees we started with, give or take a few, and they were way too busy doing bee stuff to take much notice of us. Whether or not they stay happy (and stay put) is yet to be seen, but for now the our first bee rescue appears to be a bee-u-ti-ful success.