The bees are here! The bees are here!
We’ve had bees in the past and the honey has been amazing, so we are glad to be back in the bee business.
Our friend JoDee is our partner in the bee ventures and she was out last weekend to help us get the hives in order. We had them out in the sun before, but the heat in the summer here can get intense, so we have tucked them back into the treeline, but nice and close to our garden.
You all will be shocked to hear that we painted the hives blue.
David picked up two 3-pound packages of honeybees first thing on Saturday morning.
The bees come in these plywood and screen boxes and each has about 10,000 or so bees inside, including the queen.
The queen is in her own little box plugged with a candy cork and accompanied by 3 or 4 of her own workers, protected from all the other bees because she is not “their” queen yet. Keeping her in the box gets them used to her smell (or the bee equivalent) so that by the time she eats her way out of the little box, they are all acquainted and happy with each other. If the workers don’t like her, or don’t think she is producing well, they will kill her, and since we are moving them into a new hive and they don’t have any queen brood ready, much less any more worker brood, that would kill the entire hive. (Even more interesting, if the workers in a hive have decided to kill their queen, they change the shape of the honeycomb cells she is laying in that day, which makes her lay queen eggs, instead of worker eggs or drone eggs. As with all rulers, the queen is not really in charge.)
What’s crazy is the bees are in the big clump, hanging around the queen’s box. These boxes make a very loud buzzing noise and it truly sounds like something to be avoided. David sprays them with a sugar syrup mixture before this whole process begins and it really calms them down.
This box has only half the frames in in preparation for the hive installation. David hung the queen box, still plugged with the candy cork, in the frames and then put on his bee gear to get the rest of the hive in.
He takes the box of bees…
…and then slams on it the other box to make all the bees fall to the bottom. You know, because, that seems like a good idea. :)
And then he pours them into the waiting hive.
After they settle down, he replaces the missing frames and puts an empty super on top.
Inside the empty super box, he puts in the fondant for the bees. This is a boiled mix of sugar and water that then cools into a mostly solid mass. It will serve as a sure source of food for the bees while they get used to their new home and start venturing out to find flowers.
Then he puts the lid on the top, secures it with a brick to keep the racoons out and that chore is done.
And now it is the hardest part where don’t go bothering or peeking into the hive for a week. He and JoDee will do an inspection next weekend and fingers crossed, the queen will be there busily laying eggs into freshly drawn out honeycomb.