We went out to Living Kitchen today and picked up our Italian hive. The farm is up for sale and has been for several months, and we wanted to move the girls before somebody bought the property. We’d just put the hive out there on a handshake, and we didn’t want to take a chance on the new owners either destroying it or trying to claim ownership of it, so we waited for the girls to draw down their winter stores (thus making the hive lighter) and then loaded it up in the back of the truck and brought it home.
It’s one of the stronger colonies we’ve had in recent memory.
Speaking of strong colonies, I have high hopes for the Texas-bred Buckfasts we got last year. A lot of beekeepers don’t like the Buckfasts from this particular supplier, because they’re ornery little cusses, but I like a hot hive. Bees that are aggressive about defending themselves are not likely to let wax moths or hive beetles sneak in and take over when I’m not looking.
One of our chickens made the mistake of tunneling her way to freedom and treating the Buckfast hive like a smorgasbord while I was in New Mexico. Ron called one night to report that the bees had actually stung her to death. Poor thing probably went over there in search of a snack, got stung once, and then agitated the colony by flailing around and flapping her wings in a panic.
I feel sorry for the chicken, but I’m kind of glad to know the bees are quick to protect themselves from intruders. It was after dark when we moved the Italian hive into our bee yard here in Red Fork, and several dozen Buckfasts promptly came outside to watch what we were doing and make sure we didn’t try anything stupid.