Opening a package of bees

Our niece (with round hat) opens her very first package of bees ever with the guidance of Dr. Meghan Milbrath.

We are just bursting with happiness, having yesterday witnessed our niece hiving her first bees ever.

Taking the advice we did not take for ourselves, she is learning with Langstroth equipment. The main reasons offered for beginners to do so come from its being the standard system of professionals and hobbyists. That makes it easier to find experienced beeks to provide advice and help. In this case we had arranged for a season of mentorship from Dr. Meghan Milbrath, who has been beekeeping since a child when she learned from her father. It is also easier to obtain compatible equipment without being a woodworker, as our niece discovered having earlier acquired a Langstroth hive from a local beekeeper who had become quite allergic to bees and inheriting in addition an unused starter kit from us.

With our niece’s father, ourselves, and several of her housemates all observing with interest, she followed Dr. Milbrath‘s instructions and soon had a hive full of bees. Throughout it all Dr. Milbrath, an excellent mentor, explained the reasons for each step of the procedure and answered questions from the onlookers. The one wrinkle was that the cold day made the bees cluster more tightly and required determined and repeated banging to evict them from the shipping box and into the hive. As compensation the cold also made them disinclined to fly about and eager to get into the hive, leaving our niece’s pristine white jacket thus far unanointed by bee poop.

It seemed not quite right to the spectators that there was no ceremony upon the completion of the process (We had shamefully neglected to bring tea and cake as better organized beekeepers do.) so our niece and her father recited the Shehechiyanu, a Hebrew prayer appropriate for "first times", after which we all bowed to the hive and went our separate ways.