California almond pollination is long since done, and we’re on the cusp of honey production season in Montana.  And so begins the time of year for shipping bees.

As you know, we’ve already trucked 200 colonies home ourselves.  Yesterday afternoon, another 408 colonies of our pretty black bees arrived safely from California.  Collective happy sigh of relief!  Those 408 hives represent just under half of Honeydew and I’s livelihood and when they’re out there in the channels of interstate commerce on the flat bed of a big rig, I can hardly sleep for worrying about them.  After all, as my Great Uncle Charlie always said, “money can’t buy love, but it sure can buy everything else.”  And I sure am fond of that everything else, from the humblest tin of tuna in the pantry, to the ratty old towel I like to dry my hair with, to the five 50lb bags of puppy chow stacked in our garage, to the oil that keeps that Tahoe on the road, to the buttery soft leather handbag I keep my essentials in, to the toothpaste that wakes my mouth up every morning and renders me slightly less frightening before 6am.  Yes, Uncle C.  Money is not everything.  But fresh breath might be.

Our darling truck driver, Chuck Pluid, pulled into the holding yard where we unload around 3pm mountain time:

I told you he is darling:

The truck is wrapped up like a package with bee nets:

And we unwrap the package to free our lovely ladies.  And yes, to us little ole beekeepers, it felt like Christmas morning, indeed.  They seem healthy and happy to be back in Montana.

After all, look at the view they have from their holding yard.  Fairly 5 star, no?

Soon enough, the nets are all down, which means that Honeydew has climbed off the top of the truck and my heart rate can now resume normalcy.  No pictures of him scrambling around, thirty feet off the ground, on the the lids of bee hives.  I can’t watch.

Now Honeydew fires up the forklift and gently lifts the hives, four per pallet, three pallets at a time, to the welcoming Montana earth.  He did not dump any, thank God.  Bees are not happy when a forklift-caused-earthquake destroys their home.  And beekeeper’s wives quit rolling up straps, folding nets, and generally assisting when 12 hives of angry bees crash to the ground – we get in our trucks, taking our dogs with us, and turn up Dolly Parton real loud.  Or at least, that was this beekeeper’s wife’s exit strategy had Honeydew dumped a hive.  But he didn’t.  I just like to be prepared.

Soon enough, half the flat bed is unloaded, and bees fill the air:

The bees are thrilled to be out of their nets and engage in a Cleansing Flight:

Welcome home, girls.  We missed y’all.

Now get to work.  There’s propane to buy, taxes to pay, and did I mention those cute shoes I saw in Helena last week? The final 408 hives will be en route shortly!

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