Friday, April 22, 2011

Package Bees II

    We just finished our third day of the package bees (Friday night) and still have about 80 packages which are waiting to be picked up.  Fortunately, the weather has been cool so they are still in very good shape.  The package bees are very easily damaged by too much heat so they keep much better in cool weather.  75 percent were picked up on the first day (Wednesday) and since then it has been slower.  I'm not as beat as I was last year largely because Quentin did the heavy lifting and unloaded most of the packages from the trailer.   Grandma Cozette was again pressed into service vacuuming up the hitchhikers, while I worked down at the store.  It was very different to see the event more from that perspective.  In previous years I've always started the day working at the house, unloading the trailer and preparing the packages to be transported to the store.  I usually didn't get down to the store until mid afternoon.
   It was like old times having Rachel back at the store for a few days. She did a wonderful job manning the store while Quentin and I transported the bees up from California. She did a great job handling the register and equipment sales while I focused on handing out packages.  We had a higher percentage of cutomers who paid in advance this year such that the line to pick up bees was usually longer than the register line. The customers were generally very patient about the wait and very happy to take their girls home. All in all the day went relatively smoothly although it was a very long day. I'm very glad Rachel has finally gone back to school but I do miss having her at the store. The bee store was sure a great daddy daughter project.

   I would never be able to survive the package bees without significant help from friends.  Terry Johnson is a good friend, serious gardener and canner as well as a brother beekeeper. He has helped us hand out package bees every year since we bought the bee store. He is also somewhat of an incognito celebrity.  We have a large poster in the store of Terry, dressed in his bee gear and wearing a swarm on his head.  The swarm literally covers his entire head such that many people don't realize that he is wearing a hat and veil under the swarm.  The picture was on the cover of the American Bee Journal in February, 1981.
    This line of beehives belong to Steve Park and were located adjacent to the loading area. Some of  Steve's employees were grafting queens from these hives while our packages were being loaded. Quentin managed to watch them graft queens and took some pictures. I was busy elsewhere and missed it. Note that the hives are painted with a silver reflective paint to help the bees stay cooler in the hot weather. We don't have to worry about that as much in cool western Washington so we can paint our beehives pretty much any color we like.


  1. Is this the Terry Johnson who taught English at the junior high? Looks like him... I guess...the clothes are throwing me off. To this day, he is my most favorite teacher and I've still got his lessons in my head.

  2. Bridget,
    This is indeed the same Terry Johnson. He has a blog you would probably enjoy, but I don't remember offhand what he calls it. I'll find out for you. He would be gratified to know that his teaching was a significant influence in your life.