Before Grandpa passed away last May, he asked me to take care of his bees. He was 89, and although he had years ago reluctantly given up his Big Sur beekeeping career because he was too frail to lift the honey-heavy hives, he still liked to watch the wild bees set up homes in a pile of deteriorating bee equipment in his backyard.
Now all that’s left is one hive. The bees were entering through a small crack in the top left corner.
When I pried through a seal of gummy brown propolis, I found a very small colony trying to raise eggs in frames that had been destroyed by mice, wax moths and who knows what.
The frames crumbled in places when I lifted them. I carefully searched, and found eggs and larvae. And a spot of honey.
Then I saw the queen! (6 o’clock)
I carefully transferred Grandpa’s frames into a deep I brought from home with four empty wax frames. I heard a collective thrum of excitement from the bees. I think they were overjoyed to have clean wax and more room.
I used mesh drawer liners and duct tape to cover the entrances for the trip to the Bay Area.
I secured the lid for the two-hour journey.
Their new home was waiting when I pulled up at 10 p.m. I transferred them to the garden, removed the mesh (got stung on my right pinky finger), and fed them with a 1:1 sugar-water ratio. I also placed a super of sticky honeycomb on the ground nearby so they could find it in the morning for easy forage. I filled a planter tray with rocks and water so they could have water close by.
In the morning, they made small, exploratory flights around the garden. I hope, with more room, new equipment, my mothering and Grandpa’s spirit, this little hive will survive.
Franklin Peace, 1926-2015
11 thoughts on “Grandpa’s Last Beehive”
You say that you took your Grandfather’s last hive of honey bees.
What happened to the rest of them?
Has anyone continued on his legacy there?
What is the state of honey bees in Carmel Valley and Big Sur?
Happy to report the honeybee is thriving in Big Sur and Carmel Valley – there are many beekeepers there who were mentored by Grandpa and continuing his legacy. Including me. I just moved to Carmel Valley and am setting up more hives. In fact there are already 2 beekeepers living on my street. To answer your question about grandpa’s hives – the majority of them went to a family friend in Big Sur, and I took the last one. That friend, and I, are still keeping bees.
I just heard this on the radio, and thought that you would especially like it:
Wonderful! We keep bees, and I love that you carried on your Grandfather’s wishes. I hope your hive flourishes.
I love this story it may be that I’m a mushy old grandfather , but I cried. Thank you for sharing.
I hope that your bees thrive and that you will share up dates. Do you have an fb page set up for this?
Yes, updates are a certainty. My bees have their own page on FB: the honey bus
Beautiful! I hope they thrive!
Absolutely beautiful story!