Friday was the annual “Bee Day” at Fort Missoula where beekeepers from across the region gathered to pick up their new supply of bees. Since this is our first year as beekeepers, we weren’t sure what to expect. There was a crowd of people ranging from babies to elderly folks. There were newbies like us as well as some seasoned beekeepers. The conversation in the crowd buzzed with bee talk. It was so exciting!
Finally a truck towing a trailer pulled in. The trailer was filled with wooden screened in boxes. There were thousands of bees housed in the wooden boxes that had been shipped here from California. One of the organizers said there were over a million honey bees on that trailer! Each “package” or box weighs about three pounds and contains 12,000-15,000 honey bees.
I was impressed with how they managed to distribute bees to such a large crowd. We basically all waited in a big group and went forward to collect our bees when our names were called. A man in a beekeeping suit cut the wooden screened in boxes apart since they came in groups of four. We ordered two sets of bees for this first year. Some folks ordered four, five and even twenty boxes!
Once we picked up our bees, we headed back to the car. That’s when we realized our mistake in bringing the car instead of the truck. While the majority of the bees were housed in the screened in wood boxes, there were at least a dozen clinging to the outside of the screen. Eeekk!
The half hour drive home didn’t sound very fun with bees buzzing around the car. My husband was able to brush off the bees from the outside of the box. Then he quickly stuck the wood boxes in the back of the car before any lose ones were able to reunite with them. It was amazing, yet eerie, to hear the loud throng of “BZZZZZZZ” coming from the back of the car just on the other side of the seat from Little A’s car seat.
Luckily we made it home without incident but note to self for future reference: take a truck when picking up your bees!