Before shifting the hive from the bottom of the garden, it was time to make the girls ready for their move. Step One was to jam foam between the boxes and the outer lifts, to stop things rattling around inside. We like them to be comfy; fine upholsterer's foam.
Step One went Very Well.
Step Two was to seal the front of the hive by closing the entrance bars and then taping them in place so the bees cannot leave. Step Two went Very Badly. Even with the tape on, the bees came out through many gaps. Fellow removal man JJ was stung twice, through thick gardening gloves, the mean little buzzers.
Change of plan: stuff the hive entrance with foam, too. This *would have* gone well, except the Heavens Opened and Lo, we were Drenched, as were the bees and the sticky tape, which would now not even stick to itself, let alone a damp hive.
Imagine at this point two very, very soggy beekeepers, bits of foam and gaffer tape spread around the area, and lots of very, very annoyed bees trying to sting us big time. JJ was stung twice more.
Nasty little buggers.
We finally stuffed and taped the entrance, put a tarpaulin over the top and roped up the entire thing (and retired for a respite from the torrential downpour with occasional lightning).
Things went from wet and frustrating to downright cussed: we discovered that the hive did not fit in the van. I said, "Oh, bother." Of course, we could have measured up beforehand, but that would have been tantamount to stopping to ask for directions.
Had to unrope the whole shebang, take the lid of the hive off, and put the tarp and ropes back on, relying solely on the tarp to keep the bees in, and try again. Well, at least the hive did now fit into the van, and the bee-tight efforts *sort of* worked. Bees wriggled past the foam and tarpaulin continuously, so by the time we arrived at the apiary, we had perhaps 500 buzzing around in the van.
On the journey, a bee stung me, the bitch.
At the apiary, we cleared the ground briefly, settled the hive, unroped and unwrapped it and replaced the lid. When all else was clear, we reopened the front, and the air absolutely filled with bees. BOY, were they upset! Serves them right.
After five minutes they seemed to calm down, and we left them for the night. The new apiary is about three miles from home. They are bees. They will be fine. They are insects, without love or moral compass.
I will miss my bees.