Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hiving the Bees

Adam was up and out the door at 7:00 this morning, to go get his bees. Here are 3 of his 4 hives. They're in contained, screened boxes. Inside is a can of sugar water for them to eat, and the queen, in a small wire cage, with a few attendants. Each hive of bees is about 10,000 bees. So today he brought home 40,000 bees to our yard.
Here's a close-up of one of the boxes. The bees clump up together. There are a few dead ones on the bottom.
Anna is the bee girl. She enjoys working with bees with her dad. So she definitely wanted to help put the bees into their permanent hives today.
Adam had it all set up. Today was not ideal, weather-wise. The storm passed, and the sun came out (that's good), but it was very windy (that's bad).
See how they all hang together?
Adam had his smoker all ready, and four jars of sugar water, for them to eat. The water also has food-grade essential oils, like lemongrass, wintergreen and tea tree, which the bees love. It makes them think, "Ah, I like living here!"
Sandy enjoys bee work too. She lends moral support, and if the bees get out of line, she snaps at them.
First, Adam takes his "hive tool," which he made himself, and pries off the little wooden flat that seals the box of bees.

Underneath, you see the bottom of a can of sugar water. This is what the bees have been feeding on, in transit from Florida, where they were born.
He lifts the can out.
The bees are active, even though Anna sprayed them all down with sugar water, to make them happy. If you look closely, you can see a white strip, on the left side of the opening. That's a strip of plastic attached to the queen's box, which is dangling down into the opening. She's in there with the bees, so they can get used to her, but they don't have access to her yet, because they might kill her at this point. These bees came from many different original hives, and were just scooped up and put in here together. They have to learn to like each other, and especially to form an attachment to their queen.
Adam pries the white strip up. See how there are a few loose bees, already out?
He gets the queen cage out. See how bees are clinging to the cage, interested in her already? He'll shake them off.  She has about 6 attendant bees, inside the cage with her, who feed and care for her.
He stapled the queen cage to a frame. This frame will go into the permanent hive box.
He placed the box of bees inside the hive box. He removed that wooden flat,so they can get out of their box and occupy their new home.
This is a fuzzy picture, but Adam removed a small cork that was closing up the hole in the queen's cage. He replaced the cork with a marshmallow.  The bees will slowly eat the marshmallow, and let the queen out. By the time they do this (several days), they will have assimilated to her, she will move into the hive, and be their queen.
The box of bees are in the bottom of the permanent hive. The queen is in the frame, in the next box up from them. This will encourage them to move up in the hive, to make comb. Here, Adam puts the queen's frame into the hive box.
The 10,000 bees are in the red, bottom box.  The queen and her cage are in the top, yellow box.

He puts a cover on, with a hole in it, and places their can of sugar water on top.
Then he places an empty white box around it, to protect the can.
Then he caps the hive with a metal top.
On to the next set of bees! This one will be difficult because the queen's cage became disengaged from the white strap, and fell down among the bees. Somebody will have to reach a hand down into the 10,000 bees, and pull the cage out. Not me!!
Anna volunteers.  That's her arm. She tried, but was stung once, and decided to let her daddy do it :)
Adam succeeded, with only one sting. It's important to keep your fingers together, and not curl them up, when you work with your hand in the bees. He forgot, and curled his pinky finger, squishing a bee in the curl. You can hardly blame the bee for defending himself.
Here he staples this queen cage onto a new frame. Please notice that this frame is not the same as the other one;  it's a half frame. It's only a top bar, and two side bars. It gives the bees enough form to begin making comb. These frames go into the cute, Warre hives.
The Warre hives are smaller in circumference, so the box of bees won't lie down in there; Adam has to stand it up on its end.
He places another box, with half frames, over that. Because the frames are only half frames, they can fit over top of the box of bees. Anna examines her sting.
The third box has the queen in it.
I do think the Warre hives are so cute -- like little cottages.
Adam asked Anna if she wanted to do the next one herself. Well, with a little help.
Now all the bees are happily tucked into their new homes. Just a few feet away, is this Lady Banks rose bush. They quickly discovered it, and were investigating the possibilities. We've put a few chairs in front of the bees, and will spend many hours watching them go in and out, doing their bee business.  Adam is one happy camper now!

1 comment:

  1. Hi MK!
    What a fascinating post! Have you watched Lark Rise to Candleford? Queenie keeps bees. I found the process so interesting. I would love watching those bees. Oh, Sandy. She is a love. She has the prettiest face.

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