Sunday, April 22, 2012

The big day!

Today I picked up my package colony from my local bee supplier: Ron Spille Honey

It is always advisable to seek out a local supplier because bees born near where they will be hived are much happier.  For example, a Georgia bee in a Michigan hive isn't going to tolerate cold very well (this seems to be especially true for queens).

Although sunny today, it was cold!  The weather was only around 45 degrees.  I think this had a lot to do with how calm my bees were.  In their transport container they were essentially huddled together around the queen and feeding can.  There was very little movement other than an occasional repositioning as one bee traded spots with another in the cluster.

One 3lb box 'o bees!
My friend Coyote volunteered to come along and help me install the bees into their hive.  Thank goodness, otherwise my poor girls would have been ... let's just say, amazed by my frame building incompetence.  Luckily, Stewart and Coyote got the brood frames stable and then it was time to douse the girls with sugar spray.

Coyote hard at work rescuing my brood frames
Becky's Magic Bee Juice

My sugar spray formula apparently worked wonderfully.  Spraying the bees before installation is recommended because it temporarily prevents the bees from flying by making their wings heavy (of course you will have a few surly bees), but I was AMAZED at how calm they all were!  To install you pop off the top board, take out the queen cage, remove cork at the candy end of the queen cage, place queen, take out the transport feeder can, give a good but gentle shake to the transport box, dump the rest of the bees into the hive, and gently place frames over your massive bee pile.  After that, you wait.

I found it all pretty exciting and fascinating, and apparently my bees were super interested in my fancy hat.

Becky's Magic Bee Juice
1 part sugar
1 part water
4 tsp. of Honey B Healthy Honey B Healthy

I used 1 cup each of sugar and water.  This is also the solution that I am using as supplemental feed until my colony establishes itself.  For good measure, I also put a pollen patty across the top bars of the brood frames. 

Final note: You've undoubtedly noticed my fancy bee keeping suit.  Just make sure you can block off your wrists and ankles.  I used snow boots and gloves for this purpose, but you can make simple elastic bands or go full tilt and buy a special bee suit.  I'm starting out with nitrile gloves so I can get used to feeling the bees on my hands.  However, many experienced bee keepers rarely use gloves since they can be bulky and inhibit fine motor movement.

In they go ...

Starting to explore their new home!

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