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Last September, Tom contracted our neighbor (Jim) to clear three acres along our north fence line. The area was densely forested, but Jim got to work with his backhoe digging out the brush and bringing down the trees that were blocking the fenceline. I was at work when Tom called me and asked me if I knew any beekeepers.

It turns out that Jim had brought down a big tree that had an established beehive in it. The tree had a large knot hole with a hollow area below it. A queen and her attendants had found it, taken up residence, and had been busy all summer harvesting the clover blossoms, the wild roses, and everything else that grows in my pasture in the summer time. They had a huge store of honeycomb, and now it was on the ground.

Tom was planning to burn the tree, telling me that the bees were goners since the tree was down now and there wasn't anything he could do about it now. I literally begged him to give me 24 hours to find a keeper to come harvest these girls and give them a fighting chance for the winter. I had noticed that we had more bees than usual that summer, and I had wondered where they were coming from. Now I knew, and I felt responsible for them. Since they had been living in my pasture, they were, in fact, MY bees. I immediately contacted Oklahoma Beekeepers Association and got several responses. One keeper, Matt, told me he could come out the next day.

True to his word, he was there at 9am, with his bee suit, a smoker, and wire mesh. Jim came back over and fired up the backhoe to help. He felt kind of bad about knocking over the tree, but Tom is the one who told him to do it, so he was just following instructions. Neither of them had any idea that the bees were living in it until the tree was already on the ground.

Matt used his smoker to pacify the bees, then he stapled wire mesh over the chimney hole so that they were contained inside. He used a chainsaw to cut out the hive section of the trunk and then with a lot of help from Jim's backhoe, got that section moved to the bed of his truck. Matt told me it was a lovely hive - the bees were docile and relaxed, exactly the kind he liked to work with. The last I saw of them was the tree trunk in the back of the truck, heading out the driveway. There were a few straggler bees clinging to the mesh outside of the hole, but Matt assured me that they would make the trip just fine.

It was an awesome experience - watching a beekeeper at work, relocating an established hive - and it was made even better by the fact that it happened on my birthday. What a gift! For me AND for my (now Matt's) bees.

~ EDIT for Spring 2021 ~ I heard from Matt today. The bees survived the winter and the hive is growing and foraging so it looks like they are going to be ok from here on out. I'm so SO happy that they made it!

~ * ~

My Anything Goes Week 11 Challenge ~ Celebrating (or not) Dr Seuss.
~ Theme ~ Lucky
~ Doodles ~ flight trails on the bees
~ Funny Shapes ~ I used hexagons to create flowers
~ Dr Seuss Quote ~ Journal strips from The Lorax (I substituted bees for boys)
~ Color Palette ~ from Hop On Pop (yellow, green, orange, white)
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