BEES!

We finally got our bees!  We have been planning for them since last November.  We had to get the hive, all the stuff that goes with it, pre-order the bees, prep the hive, the location, talk to the neighbors and most importantly, learn.  Bees are a new project here and I’ve never raised them before so it was all new.

Thank goodness for You Tube and the rest of the Internet.  I spent a lot of this winter learning everything I could.  And there is so much contradicting information out there that it’s tough to decide on exactly what to do.  And none of it is cheap.  I think, after going through the setup, I wold have done some things in a cheaper way but it’s best to start off right.  We did that wth the chickens and now we have the most expensive eggs on the planet but all the birds are healthy, productive and seem pretty happy.

So we left early (6:30am) on a Sunday to go get them.  Even though we were excited…that was one early morning.  The apiary we got them from was only an hour and a half away but still.  The Beekeeper we got them from closed them up the night before, after most of the bees had returned to the hive and had them ready to go when we pulled in.  We loaded the wax-covered cardboard box in the car and headed back home.  You couldn’t hear them over the sound of the engine but I stopped for a coffee and while I was sitting in the car with the engine off, I could hear a steady low drone coming from the back and the sound of a lot of insects moving around in a cardboard box.  Slightly unnerving.

Once we got them home, we let them chill out for a little bit.  The day started out cool and cloudy but quickly warmed up and I decided we needed to move them into the hive or we’d battle warm temps, a rising breeze, and recently disturbed hive.  So I donned my makeshift bee suit, grabbed my makeshift hive tool and went to work.  I was nervous too.  No one gets training on how to manage a few thousand stinging insects.  It’s something I think you just have to do.  After a bunch of you tube videos and articles, I fired up the smoker, asked Chris for help tucking in the face net (which is actually a fishing hat meant to keep mosquitoes off of you), and unstuck the duct tape that held the box closed.

It went exactly as I’d planned and hoped.  I carefully pushed the bees down with the smoke, worked the frames lose, took a good look at them and placed them in the hive in order.  I am pretty sure I identified the queen. But honestly, I was really nervous and I could have been wrong.  Moving quickly was out of the question so I was careful and slow and gentle with the bees but I was also trying to finish transferring them fairly quickly in order to minimize stress on them and to get out of there.  The bees themselves were pretty relaxed, I had one try to string through my pants but my jeans were too thick.  But I was loathe to squish any and cause any distress.  So I might have identified her, but I wasn’t really calm enough to be sure.  Regardless, we got them all in the new hive save a few who refused to leave the box.  I was super extra careful not to squish any between the frames and the box or between the frames.

Then we settled them in and closed it all up and left. They were definitely disturbed for awhile but settled down within an hour.  I am a little embarrassed to admit it but we went and checked on them like 10 times throughout the day.  By the end of the day they seemed to have settled in fully and were in and out of the entrance regularly and loaded with pollen.  I hope they are busy making more comb and setting up house their new home.