Sunday our bees arrived! We picked up our two buzzing boxes, each containing three pounds of bees, carefully set them into the back of the mini van and headed home. The whole way I was a little nervous that they would somehow get out and swarm us and sting us to death right there along State Highway I but nope, we made it home just fine.
Our plan was to install the bees (a fancy way of saying put them into the hive) Sunday evening when it got cooler. The thinking is that the bees get put into the hive right before dark so they’ll just say, “Hey, I’m kinda tired. Instead of flying away from this new and strange place, I think I’ll just hit the hay right here.” It sounds like a good idea so that was what we were going to do.
Until afternoon thunderstorms kicked up. And turned into evening thunderstorms. And turned into thunderstorms right up until dark.
Why do I even bother to make plans?
So the bees spent their first night here at the homestead in the corner of the barn. They have a little bottle of sugar water in their boxes for food so as long as they didn’t get too hot or cold, we knew they would be fine.
Bright and early we woke up and got to work. First, we dressed in our full contamination/quarantine/as-if-the-neighbors-don’t-think-we’re-strange-enough-already blinding white bee suits. Then we grabbed our tools and the bees and headed out to the hives. We put our hives on an old circular concrete pad where a corn crib once stood. That way we don’t have to get too close to them when mowing and risking making the bees mad which means getting stung.
Our first order of business was to put this little piece of wood called a hive entrance reducer on the in/out area of the hive. It is supposed to help keep the bees inside more after we put them in the hive – give them a better chance to get comfy before they find their way outside. (Used in the winter, the entrance reducer helps keep the cold air from blowing into the hive.)
So instead of the whole in/out area being open, they only get a little section like this.
Now it was time to get the bees out!
Josh removed the can of sugar water solution.
The queen is shipped inside the bees in her own little special box. Right now, these bees don’t know her from Adam and don’t know that she is their queen. They need a few days to get to know and like her before they accept her. Josh takes out the queen box too.
Before we did this, I watched a few online videos to remind myself that we wouldn’t get stung to death and all would be right with the world. This is the part of the installation that one man on the video says defies all common sense. I really liked that. I think it describes it so accurately. Because now you take that package of 12,000 bees and you bang it on the ground and turn it upside down and shake it until all the bees come falling out. Exactly what common sense should tell you NOT to do!!
Here’s Josh, banging and shaking, not using his common sense:
One final shake:
This is what the hive looked like afterwards.
We set the box next to the hive so that the few remaining (dazed and confused) bees can fly out whenever their heads stop spinning. Then Josh replaced the frames he had removed. Between the two center frames, he wedged the queen in her little box. That way all the other bees can come by and say hey without you know, killing her. Then in a few days we’ll release her into the hive and she’ll be loved and respected by all (or so the theory goes).
Josh started closing up the hive again by placing the inner cover on top of the frames. Over the hole in the inner cover, he placed the can of sugar water the bees came with so they could finish off their snack whenever they wanted.
Next came a honey super. Now normally this honey super would be filled with frames (like we just put in the bottom box) but for now we are just using it so that we can cover the sugar water can.
After putting the top lid on, the hive was done. The final thing we did was give them a little extra food. We want them to get busy eating and working as soon as possible so we can them an extra jar of sugar water. It gets attached to the front of the hive entrance reducer. How convenient – kind of like a drive-through where they don’t even have to go outside to get food!
And our work for the morning was done! Installation was complete! No people stung!
We checked on them last evening and refilled their sugar water (they ate almost all of it!). There were a bunch of bees flying around and they looked pretty happy. We did notice some bees laying dead on the ground right under the entrance but even that was a good sign. Bees are VERY clean and remove anything from their hive that doesn’t belong. So they were just doing some housekeeping by removing any bees that had died during the trip or installation.
On Wednesday we’ll let the queen out and our hives should be ready to work! I can already taste the honey…
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