But then Tom called Sunday night and said they had arrived earlier than expected and he would have them to me on Tuesday at noon. I was not ready! I still had to paint the new hives - which I did until midnight in the dining room.
My new hives are Warre hives, and instead of frames, they have bars with two legs that hang down across the top of the boxes. The bees construct their natural sling-like comb. It's messier for the beekeeper to deal with, but the theory is that the bees can customize cell size for worker bees or drones and make smaller-sized cells that discourage the dreaded Varroa mite.
Each bar requires a bead of beeswax centered along the bottom edge to lure the bees to build where you want them to. Tom had cut slits along the bar where he poured melted wax- but my bars didn't have slits. We invented a solution - which could be genius or folly, we'll see. I used a hot glue gun to draw a bead along each bar...
Assisi Heights, arrived with the three packages of bees and stayed to help me install them. Between them, they must have well over 50 years beekeeping expertise, so I couldn't have dreamed of better assistance! We closed up the entrances and poured the package of bees into the hive. We spritzed the bees with a sugar water solution, which reduces their flying ability and keeps them distracted, licking the sweetness from each other.
The top box of the Warre hives has a feeding area, in which we placed comb full of honey from last year's hive to nourish the bees until the dandelions and creeping charlie start blooming (any day now!)
It was pretty hectic getting these bees installed yesterday, but it was a rare sunny, warm day - making all the beekeepers and bees very happy. I am glad they arrived early - and relieved they did not arrive at the same time as my expected calf.
I just looked out my dining room window and can see that already this morning the bees are getting to work. All seems right with the world.
Bonus auditory treat: When I was researching Warre hives I became acquainted with a beekeeper in Maine, The Luddite, who writes engagingly about her apiary. Her husband is a composer who incorporated recordings of her bees into a lovely, jazzy piece of music: "Chant Des Abbeilles."(scroll down his page to listen.)