The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Driving with bees

photo of a nucleus beehive used for transporting bees

A nucleus beehive

One of my earliest activities as a novice beekeper was also my scariest few hours.
I had been helping out on the Cambridge Bee Keeping Association stall at a country fair. One of my co-helpers suggested that I might like to collect a free new colony from his apiary after the fair.
“That’s if you are ready. With all your frames built?”

I was both thrilled and terrified. I had completed the long CBKA course, built my hive and bought my bee suit. All I needed were the bees. If I took these I would be one of the first in my class to get my own bees and they would have all summer to build into a strong colony. On the other hand, one of the reasons I had decided to take up beekeeping was to try to overcome my fear of flying insects. Now was the time to bite the bullet. I tried to look calm and confident.
“Yes I’m ready to go. The only thing is that I’m dropping by to have tea with my mum. Will the bees be alright in the car?”
“They will be fine.”

So later that afternoon we drove in convoy to the old orchard where the beekeeper kept his hives. We walked through the long wet grass to a big semi circle of hives. On the top of one hive was a Nucleus hive (Nuc). These are small five frame hives that are used to create new colonies of bees.

He carefully put a piece of foam to block up the entrance hole and we tramped back to the cars. As he put the Nuc into my car a waft of bees escaped from the lid.
“I wonder where they came from.” He mused. He gave me his card. “Let the bees settle for a few days and then transfer them to your hive. Return the Nuc to the Bee hut. Ring me if you have any problems.”

I stopped for a brief cup of tea at my mum’s house. When I opened her front door to leave I noticed a movement in the car. There were bees on the inside of the windows.
“You can’t drive home in a car full of bees. If one stings you all the others will and then you could die.”
On the course I had learnt that bees can smell fear. And this makes them more likely to sting. I thought it best not to mention this to my mother.

I reached for the beekeeper’s number. He was very laid back.
“Zip up your rain jacket and put up the hood. It’s unlikely that they will sting you. If it all gets too much open the car windows and they will be swept out. ”

Not wanting to take a chance I opened the car windows and the bees flew out. Then I battened down the hatches and we inched our way through the heavy Cambridge traffic. By the time we reached the motorway and were gliding swiftly home more bees had escaped from the Nuc. They were exploring the foot well and batting against the windscreen. Bees like to crawl upwards. Would they climb inside my jeans and up my legs? When I noticed that a posse of bees were crawling up my arms I’d had enough. Thank goodness for electric windows. The car was cleared of bees in seconds.

Eventually I got home. Danny was waiting in the drive with my beesuit and gloves. I stepped out of the car in a waft of bees, wobbly with tears of relief. Miraculously I hadn’t been stung and still had some bees. Later that day I discovered there was a hole in the cover board under the roof and I vowed never to collect bees again without wearing a beesuit, boots and gloves.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Andrea

    Good to know that this post helped.

    BTW dont eat blueberry muffins near the beehives… they love them and will forage any traces on your face!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,274 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder