My beekeeping adventure all started with helping a dear friend move in. My friend Virginia moved to be closer to her children and grandchildren She did not have the heart to clear out her family’s home of 60 years. Her son had already moved her to north Texas and other plans to clear out the house had fallen through. I volunteered to clear the home and have it ready to be sold. The very last thing was go remove the old trash can alongside the chain link fence and the garage. I didn’t notice anything flying or hear any buzzing, but when I grabbed the handle and started to pull, I finally noticed something wrong! The trash can came alive immediately! I let go of the handle and backed out slowly. I was lucky that I had not disturbed them too badly.
My dad had 4 hives of bees when I was about 14 years old. He never really did anything with these bees and I really don’t really remember what happened to them; one day they were just gone. However, having bees always stuck with me and as an adult I always wanted a hive or two for my garden. I knew nothing about bees but I just figured someday I will get into keeping bees. Little did I know what was in store for me!
So, now the house has been sold and there is still a can of bees sitting there. Me being me, I just could not see them being killed off because they had made a poor choice for a home. I set out to find someone who would remove them. I have contacted a friend of mine who I knew just started keeping bees but she said she didn’t have enough experience to tackle the bees in a trash can. I did a search on facebook and contacted a beekeeper who did removals. He never answered me so next I did a google search. I came up with the same guy who never replied and some national exterminators. I was not willing to kill this hive so I came up with my own plan. I went to a local chain farm and ranch feed store and picked up a bee veil, grabbed a set of welding gloves from my husband shop, heavy coat and a red queen sized blanket from my bed. What could go wrong?
My unfortunately brave husband and I went to the house after dark. I was dressed in my coat, welding gloves, bee veil and had the blanket in hand. The plan was to walk up to the trash can, lay the blanket over the lid to cover any holes and pulled it out to place it in the truck and take it home. I walked up to the trash can, I place the blanket over the lid, “So far so good”, I think to myself. With the lid covered, I grab the closest handle and begin to pull.
As soon as I pulled the handle I realized the handle was damaged and would pop out of the can leaving another hole for the bees to come out of. I gently pulled the blanket over lid but the can came towards me about two feet while the handle came loose on one side for the can. Now the gentle buzzing was getting louder and I felt something bumping against my veil. My poor husband is directly behind me was not wearing a veil so I yelled at him to back up and get away from me. We decided, wisely, to rethink my plan of trying to move this hive by ourselves.
I was still not able to find a local beekeeper to remove this hive but I have not given up! One evening while at a local gas station, I spotted my neighbor who helped me put in my garden beds and drip water lines. I mention to him about the bee issue I was having. He said “call Ralph; he is a beekeeper.”
I get home and I do a quick search for his phone number and called to explain the situation and agreed to remove the trash can full of bees for me. The next day, he followed us to my friend’s house. My husband stands at the end of the driveway while Ralph and I picked up the can and loaded it on his truck. We stood in the driveway chatting about bees while the smoke from the smoker curled around us. My ever loving husband finally got into our truck because he had gotten stung in the ear. (Little did he know this was only the first of many stings in my beekeeping career) Ralph and I would fine and weren’t even being bother by the upset bees.
Ralph begun to tell me that he started working bees with his father at the age of 6 years old. He proudly said, He was the “smoker boy”. He was his job to smoke the hives as his father was working the hives. Ralph was 86 years old when I met him and had 80 years of bee experience! I told him I was interested in having a hive or two at my place or my garden. I asked him, if he would mentor me. He replied, he would think about it. Every Sunday for three weeks, I stopped by Ralph’s place with a dozen eggs from our chickens.
Finally one day he told me he was ready to work with me and to be at his home on Monday morning. I got my suit own suit, gloves, and smoker that week.
After my first day on the job, Ralph asked me to go to lunch with him. Over lunch, he asked me to take over his bee business. I was shocked and floored as I was only looking to gain experience and a couple of hives of my own. Ralph offered to mentor me and in return I would provide the muscles for this bee business. That was in 2018, it has become a family business.
My still very patient husband and our youngest daughter is the one who builds my boxes, lids and bases. My eldest daughter is my partner in crime! She assists with bee removals but also focuses on apiary management, our social media, and helping fellow beekeepers in the RGV. It just goes to show you how helping someone can turn into something wonderful. I never would have thought I would own a bee business and now, I have over 100 hives and I love it!
My family and I are making plans to grow and expand, the sky is the limit!