Wednesday, May 6, 2009

4500 Bees!

My bees were supposed to arrive in the mail today, but Monday afternoon we got the call that the bees were here, please come get them. At first I was a bit annoyed at having to take all of Tuesday afternoon to drive to Houston (MN) and back but it was sunny and vast fields of Virginia bluebells were blooming, so it turned out to be a pleasurable road trip.
I drove home with my bee box humming in the back seat --3 pounds, about 4500 bees. As soon as I arrived home, I spritzed them with a bit of water in case they were thirsty and then set about installing them in the boxes. I couldn't afford to buy a bee suit yet, but I had purchased some white overalls and a windbreaker at Goodwill that worked swell with the bee veil and helmet.

Cadence was my fearless assistant, sans bee suit, reading me the step-by-step instructions and documenting the occasion with these photos.
First, the bees were sprayed with a sugar water solution , supposedly to make it so they can't fly until they clean themselves off.

The box is rapped sharply so the bees fall to the bottom and the feeding can is removed from the top of the shipping box. Then they are spritzed with a bit more sugar water.
I took out the very small wood and wire mesh box within containing the queen. One end had a cork that I removed and replaced with a miniature marshmallow. (Of course I had to purchase an entire bag for that one marshmallow.) The queen will feast on marshmallow, eating her way out of the queen box in a couple days and by then the rest of the bees will have accepted her as their queen. For now, she went into my pocket to stay warm.
Next, instructions say, one simply dumps the bees into the hive body, from which four frames have been removed. Easier said than done! My bees did not pour very well. They held on with their little bee feet for dear life, to each other and to the wire mesh.
I ended up taking the bee shipping box apart and using a bee brush to get those last stubborn bees into the hive --all the while surrounded by about a hundred perturbed, airborne bees who didn't realize it is supposed to be impossible to fly after being spritzed by sugar water. Neither Cadence nor I got stung, although the Jersey calf did when he nosed his way in too close.
The little queen box was wedged between two frames. I will check in a few days to make sure she has gotten out.

The bee feeder attachment is backordered for a few days, so I was insructed to place the can of bee food over the hole on top of the inner cover.

This morning I checked on the bees and to my untrained eye it appears that they are settling in. Bees were coming and going from the small opening at the bottom of the box and the box was gently humming.


Anonymous said...

What a great post! That photo of Cadence puts a lot of humour into your story, with the dummies book. Very entertaining!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! Awesome post but I would have been no where in sight when it all happened if I had been there. As far as I know I am not allergic to bees but I don't want to find out. I once woke up in the middle of the night to find 3 of my fairly large windows covered in bees. There was a hive across the way and somehow they found their way into my bedroom. Scariest thing ever to experience at 4am in the morning. And I am not exaggerating either. The 3 windows were covered.

Anonymous said...

You are brave! I am probably gonna stick with worms, but it was really fun to see your how-to starter bee demo. Sorry, poor calf! Hope that's the last of the stings for anyone at your place! - Karen

Anonymous said...

Welcome to beekeeping from another newbie. I'm in Central Illinois and we got our bees (two packages) about 2.5 weeks ago. They are remarkably addictive.


Anonymous said...

I just love coming here. :-) This was fascinating. My grandfather had bees when I was a little girl to pollinate his pear orchard and he used to retrieve and sell honey as well. He had over 1 million bees at one time, in many hives positioned around his property. I was always terrified of them. :-)

Susan Tomlinson said...

Oh my gosh, this is just so wonderfully, wonderfully cool. I am so happy to read about your bee adventures--keep 'em coming!