Posted by: Pam B. Newberry | April 17, 2012

In Memory…April 16, 2007 – VA Tech

VT Memory Ribbon

VT Memory Ribbon

In Memory and Honor of April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech

This Post is in Memory of those who perished at VA Tech on April 16, 2007 and in Honor of those who survived and those who went to the aid of those harmed. May we never forget!

Life changes!

It changes on a dime as some have said.

This April has been full of swift changes in the beekeeping world of Hobbit King and me. As I posted earlier, Hobbit King and I had our first swarm of bees on April 1, 2012 (See the post April Fool’s Swarm — Our First Swarm). This morning, while out doing some chores in the garden, I heard that sound that has become so familiar these last couple of weeks — the sound of a bee swarm. Hive Number One was swarming yet again! And, no, I didn’t have a camera with me. Worse, I’d placed our bee suits in the wash. So, I stood there and watched what is now our seventh swarm move to a pine tree.

Luckily, the swarm landed on a fairly low branch.

Latest Swarm -4-17-12

Hobbit King came home at lunch time, and without his trusty bee gloves (they were in the wash machine), he put on his leather work gloves and an extra beekeeper’s jacket we have hanging around for visitors to use. He went out and began to scoop the swarm into a nuc box. The bees flocked to his hands and stung him repeatedly. We’ve now learned they don’t like that yellow leather.

He positioned the nuc box in such a way that we hope the bees will move in with the queen. I can’t get close enough to take pictures because my bee suit is also hanging up to dry. But, below you’ll see pics of some of the earlier swarms we have also had since my post on April 3rd.

These are pics of the bees that swarmed a second time after we captured them. These bees are part of the ones we lost.

First Swarm reformed high upon a walnut tree. This is the swarm right after a hail storm moved through on 4-4-12.

Bees lying dead on ground from rain and hail storm. We ended up loosing this swarm. We hope the bee scouts came back and the Queen and her hive found a good home.

Cluster of bees knocked off the tree during storm. These bees managed to rejoin the hive before the hive departed for parts unknown.

In the past week and one-half, we’ve had six swarms. Two we lost as they bound for parts unknown. Then we managed to capture two and move them into new beehives Hobbit King just constructed. The remaining two swarms happened this past Saturday. We managed to capture them in a nuc box and take them to a fellow beekeeper’s house. He had lost four of his hives over the winter, so he was very happy to receive the bees.

The following pictures are of various stages of bee swarms and events over the past week:

Hive One starting to swarm. The sound from this many bees is very impressive.

The swarm from Hive One clustering on one of the fence posts on 4-07-12

Another swarm on 4-13-12. We were becoming experts at catching swarms.

Bees organizing themselves and marching into the nuc box where the Queen is now located.

If you look closely, you can see a few bees holding their rear ends up in the air. They are also fanning their wings. This is to tell the other bees where that the Queen is now located in the hive and to come on in! Fascinating!!

If that wasn’t enough, Hobbit King received a phone call that there were some bees in a house that was in the process of being torn down. He was happy to hear about this call, because it came about the time we lost the first two swarms we’d caught.

He gathered up his gear and a chain saw, went to the house, only to learn that the bees had been in the house so long there was no hope of finding where the queen might be hiding. The bees had made there home in the attic (impossible to get to with the old structure) and down the side of the building. These pictures shows you how Hobbit King tried to find the queen. We drove back over later on Saturday evening and found that a lot of the bees had moved on. We are hoping they packed up and found a new home and aren’t up in the attic where they may perish when the house is torn down.

This shows part of the beehive in the side of the house. Notice the hive moved to the ground when the wall was removed.

Bees gorging on honey in prep to move it to a new location.

Since we now have two additional hives for our beehive compound, Hobbit King decided to enlarge the fenced area so that the winds would not bother the bees going to and fro from their hives. While working, he needed a post hole digger. He is in his bee suit, and he comes walking over to me where I’m working in the garden, without my bee suit on.

I look up at him and he is standing there with a dozen or more bees swarming around him like Pig-Pen from Peanuts, who always seemed to have a dust cloud hanging over his head. I inform Hobbit King he needs to stay back so that I don’t get stung. Hobbit King finds this funny. He proceeds to come over to me. I, of course, am not happy. You see, I have been taking great pride (smugness, some would call it and rightfully so) in the fact I’d managed to avoid getting stung by a bee since we started beekeeping, which will be a year this May.

That ended Sunday! I got stung! A little lady landed in my hair. I freaked. I got stung! Then, to add insult to injury. I ran and closed myself up in the greenhouse to get away from Hobbit King and his hoard of bees. He comes over to the greenhouse and opens the door and proceeds to laugh at me.

Well, all things being equal. I’m just glad he found out the yellow leather gloves don’t work when he is working in the bees. Smugness indeed! 🙂

Seriously, getting stung by a bee is no fun. I don’t wish it on the bee, either. When a honey bee stings, she dies. It is her way of defending herself and her hive. So, I was more upset that a bee died because of my stupidity, then the fact I got stung. I guess you have to be a beekeeper to understand that feeling. I know before I became a beekeeper, I wasn’t real fond of hanging around bees due to their stingers.

Now, my outlook on honey bees is a total different point of view. I understand their value. I understand their uniqueness. I cherish their existence. Just as I cherish all the souls who have walked this Earth before me and will do so after me.

Life is a precious gift given to us by a supreme being we may not know, we may not understand, or we may look forward to meeting one day. However you think or believe is not important, but do one thing on behalf of the honey bee, cherish the life you are given. Be happy, be proud, and be thankful!

Honey Cheers,
Hobbit Queen


  1. Good job wife


    • Thanks Hobbit King! You’re the Bee Man! Love Ya!


  2. […] More here: In Memory…April 16, 2007 – VA Tech « Miss Beehaven with Hobbit … […]


  3. Hi Hobbit Queen (HQ seems a bit familiar at this stage of our acquaintance!), Great post and I now have a benchmark for what real ‘bearding’ behavior looks like. Ours aren’t quite there yet.

    I have looked back at some of your previous posts as I had entirely misunderstood where these swarms were coming from: I had originally thought one or two from one of your hives, and most just floating through from the neighborhood. Are these all from one hive? If so, the first was the major swarm which could have had anywhere up to 20,000 bees in it. The subsequent ones should have been smaller ‘casts.’ To stop this happening, it might be an idea to take one of the swarms you collected and put it into the place of the original hive. This will encourage flying bees into the swarm hive, and discourage swarming behavior in the original hive.

    Please ignore if you know all this already! Regarding your first bee sting, it’s kind of like trying to avoid that first dent in a brand new car. You try to avoid it at all costs, but once it happens you can relax a little. I think….

    Good luck!


    • Hi There!!! HQ works for me. 🙂

      As for the swarms, they are coming from four separate hives. We’ve had two from each. I like your idea about placing a swarm collected back into an original hive. We will definitely consider that idea. We did take one of the hives we caught on Monday and placed into a previously caught hive, as it had gotten very small. Thanks so much for your input and advice. We are still learning; as you can tell. 🙂


      • I know I am definitely still learning! Not good at explaining things either, as what I meant to say is to take the nuc you gathered the swarm into, and put it in the place where the original hive was.The theory is that any flying bees will immediately return to the nuc, not the original hive. That prevents further casts from the original hive.

        This site might explain it better


      • Ah…thanks for the clarification! Very helpful!


  4. Absolutely outstanding article, HQ. It’s so informative and full of vivid description that I felt I was there alongside you. How fascinating to learn about the swarms and the signals that bees use to each other. I love your care and concern for the little critters.

    As for HK, he deserves a great big bee sting on his bottom for what he did to you! Grrrrrr. If it had been me, I would have been furious, not only because of the sting spoiling my record (not to mention my hairdo), but for killing the little lady.

    Anyhow, along with the great story were National-Geographic-grade pictures that absolutely got the message across.

    Outstanding effort!!


    • Thanks a million, zillion, and bigger than that! You are my shinning rainbow that helps me want to do this more! I so appreciate your comments! Glad you enjoyed this one. Always! Honey Cheers, HQ


      • Oh, you are entirely welcome, HQ. I do love your blog, though, so that’s why I enthuse over it. I am glad that makes you feel like doing this more 🙂 Yours is one of the few that I tear my hair out if I can’t make time for it. (I usually find a way.) Happy beekeeping, lady! 🙂


      • Hey Sandra…finally have time to do something fun, like read your site. I can relate to “….tear my hair out…” feeling when I don’t have the time to read the blogs I like to follow. I loved your listing of the 10 things about your life. I still am in awe of the efforts you and your mother made to survive that brutal winter and the fact you were a night DJ, is just plan awesome! You have such a wonderful life! Hugs with Honey Cheers! HQ


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