If you go down to the woods today!

 If you go down to the woods today! - Oct 2008



To be more accurate, the title should be 'If you go down to the Woods Tonight', you're sure of a big surprise. No Bears, just BEES!

Having visited the New Forest site for an Apiary meeting last year, we found ourselves driving away saying, "that's not for us"; our plan was to have one, possibly two hives, in the back garden and that would be it – not for us, this transporting of Bees around the countryside.

I have previously written about the exploits of getting our first swarm, since then, things have moved on apace. We went from one to three hives, then back to two after uniting a smaller brood with a better performing one, so, ever hopeful, both hives had supers placed on them a couple of weeks ago.

Both broods soon started to show an interest in moving up into the supers, one was actually drawing wax. However, realising the season was starting to wind down and we still had no honey; the only option was to 'go for the Heather'!

This was a disconcerting if not challenging prospect, how do you move a hive, especially one that is two fields away from where you park your car? Yes, after once being bogged down in the field, I don't drive the car to the hives now.

After gaining advice, a travel screen and a couple of straps from a bee keeping friend, I left work early on Friday the 5th of August, went down to the hives and prepared the hive for transporting.

At dusk we returned to the hive with a wheelbarrow which had been suitably modified with planks of wood and I lifted the hive onto the barrow. Crikey, don't those hives weigh a lot? We then huffed and puffed our way back to the car.

Having arranged to meet two friendly experts at Broadlands Apiary, we set off; that was after having the conversation – do we, or don't we, wear our suits? We settled on a compromise, wear the suit, but have the veil down the back (ready for any emergency).

Just after driving through Hursley Village, Jan said, "There's a Bee in the car". It's a measure of the tension that I didn't quip "there's thousands actually". I pulled over, put the interior light on and there it was, sitting on the dashboard, looking out of the windscreen, as if to say, 'where we going then'?

I must admit, Friday night, there was a Bee wandering around Hursley saying, "where's my Hive gone"?

Just as we were getting back into the car, a chap pulled over and asked for directions, I can only imagine what he was thinking – two people, in a dark lay-by, in fancy dress, what were we up to?

Anyway, we met up with our experts, transferred a hive and a couple of nukes from their car to ours and I followed them down to the New Forest without further event.

We all stumbled around in torchlight for about an hour, sited the hives and managed to get home by about 1.15 on Saturday morning.

We were tired, relieved, but strangely exhilarated by the whole experience.

I never thought my wife and I would find ourselves wandering about in the New Forest at midnight on a clear summers evening; Jan remarked it was a bit like the 'Famous Five' (apart from there only being four of us, unless you included the Bees), but it was fun.

We returned to the hive on Sunday to remove the travel screen, it was wonderful to see the Bees doing what they do best, they were foraging like crazy.

I must say, being a new beekeeper as I was then, I found it different, challenging, fascinating, but best of all, enjoyable. Thanks to everyone in S&BKA for all of their help, support and advice. Next year – we will be exhibiting in the Honey Show, at least, I hope we will.