My husband, Dave, and I have 5 acres of land in Snohomish, WA. We love to live outside of city limits with plenty of space. We have two boys who have grown into young men.
Bee populations in decline have been much in the news with reports of beekeepers losing up to half their hives. We love gardening and watching nature, so bee keeping became an interest and seemed like it would fit right in with our home and life. We like that we may be able to do a small part towards helping the bee population by providing a good home and whatever care they require. And, having a regular supply of honey will be a nice side effect, if we’re successful.
Dave’s friend, Jim, is a beekeeper. Dave and Jim had been talking about how to acquire bees. Normally, people acquire new bees in February and it was too late in the year to purchase a package of bees through traditional ways through apiary stores. Jim suggested we check Craig’s List and when we did, we found an individual with bee hives for sale near us. Dave gave them a call and discussed price and set up an appointment for us to inspect and purchase the bees the next day.
We arrived at the seller’s home in Marysville, WA at 7pm as arranged and were met by a young couple and their children. They lived on a 5 acre tract of land dotted with out buildings, gardens, chickens, geese, and dog kennels. They took us to the back of their property where there were 20-25 hives. They explained that bee keeping was passed down from the grandparents on both sides of their families. Half of the hives belonged to the wife’s father and half of the hives belonged to them. The husband said he was busy with work and very involved in church, so the wife took care of the hives. She was really impressive. She had bare arms and legs as she donned a beekeepers hat and net. With a smoker and no gloves, she removed the lid of the hive we were purchasing and started to remove frames of bees for us to inspect.
We stayed at their place for more than an hour discussing bees and beekeeping. They answered every question we had, talking us through bee hive inspections, what they do to prepare bees for winter, how they treated the bees for mites, and what they did to feed the bees in the winter. Every question we had, and we had many, was answered with a combination of pride and enthusiasm. That day, we benefited greatly from beekeeping knowledge that has been passed down through generations.
Here is our hive, with the traveling strap still attached. They had plugged up all openings so the bees wouldn’t fly out during the drive. The 7pm pick up time was set as that is the time most bees are back in their hive for the evening. This picture was taken on the next day. The bees were very active. We imagined them saying something like “What the heck!?! What just happened?”