Monday, April 16, 2012


Although  I was dismayed that my two Warre hive bees did not survive the winter, it gave me an opportunity to shore up the hives.  The fellow who built them for me had assembled them with a nail gun. They seemed secure, but after a season of housing bees and heavy combs of honey, the corners were pulling apart.

Rog and I replaced the nails with screws and I gave them a fresh coat of paint - honey gold and  vivid spring green.  I think they will look sweet with colorful flowers planted around them.
On Saturday, I picked up my  two 3-lb. packages of bees.  The  members of the SE MN Beekeepers Association had combined their orders and John, the bee club president, had driven to the supplier to pick them up for everybody - intrepidly driving with hundreds of thousands of bees in his car (many flying freely) for three hours.

Each  package of bees came in a box with a can of food (sugar syrup) to sustain them during the long trek from California where they were raised. Before releasing them, I spritzed them with sugar water, which reduces their ability to fly and keeps them busy for a while licking themselves clean.  I carefully pried out the food can and set it inside the hive on top of the  frames.  Then, I slid out the tiny cage within the box, containing the queen. I put her in the pocket of my bee suit until I was ready for her.
I don't have photos of  emptying the bees into the hive because I was doing this solo and couldn't simultaneously shoot photos.  But,  I rapped the bee box  on the ground a couple times and  the bees let  go of the screen and fell to the floor of the box in a cluster. Then, I simply poured and shook them into the hive.  A few bees couldn't be shaken out of the box, so I set the box on the ground next to the hive so they could evenutally find their own way into the hive.
Next, I fished the queen cage out of my pocket and removed the cork in the end of her cage, making sure not to let her out (I had also spritzed her with sugar water for good measure so I would be less likely to lose her.)  I re-plugged the opening with a miniature marshmallow and set the queen cage into the hive. She and the worker bees will consume the marshmallow, releasing her in a day or two. By then they will  accept each other, if they haven't already during the long trip together.

I put the cover on the hive and the bees were officially installed.   The straggler bees had made their way out of the box and were already attempting to get into the hive.  I had plugged the opening at the bottom of each hives with grass so they couldn't immediately fly away before giving the hive a chance as their new home. I watched for a while as the bees worked to removed the grass; I saw one bee flying while tugging out a blade of grass.
After installing the Warre hives, I opened up the Langstroth hive.  I have been feeding them honey-water so they have enough food until the  nectar flow begins, and they hadn't emptied the last refill yet. There are a LOT of bees in this hive!
I added a box to give them more space, the bright yellow one in the photo. This size box is called  a "medium" - it is smaller than  the two "deeps" on the bottom.  Eventually I want to change over to all mediums. Those deeps are heavy, awkward and hard on the back to move when they are full.
The Langstroth bees have been hard at work the past few weeks.  Some of them return to the hive with big panniers of pollen on their back legs. In this photo, you can see  one bee with golden yellow pollen and one with bright orange.

We are having a very cold spell of freezing nights --a rude introduction to Minnesota for California bees. I hope they adapt quickly.


gz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gz said...

)8( )8( )8(

good to see the bees

Jocelyn said...

Your hives are pretty!

Good luck with them.

Clint Baker said...

They look like they are settling right into their new homes!

Laurie said...

My bees arrive next week. I can't wait!

katiegirl said...

Bees are so amazing!! I love your bee posts. Hopefully the new bees will settle in soon and adapt to the temps!

Amy @ Minnesota Locavore said...

I'm just starting to learn about bees and the rich beekeeping community here in Minnesota. I'm so excited to go back and read some of your older bee posts. Have any favorites you've written?