Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Honey Bees Have Landed!

Our honey bees are here!  They're so immensely cute, and we're glad we took the time to set everything up for them and settle them in properly.

We have two apiaries, one made of cedar (the one with the darker stripe) and the other is pine.  The apiaries are top bar Golden Mean hives, built with plans from here.  They are under a deciduous tree (weeping willow), which means it will get sun to warm them in the winter, and shade in the summer.  They're facing where the sun rises, and also pointed towards the privacy fence:

Pointing them at the fence helps cut down on the wind that the front of the hives faces, and also forces them to fly up after they leave the hive.  This means we won't have a stream of bee traffic straight out across the yard.  At this point all we needed was bees.

The day we went to get them was very cool and drizzly.  We drove way, way out into some beautiful bluff country and to the bee farm.  So I had two of these in the backseat with me:

By the time we got home it was starting to get a little dark.  We moved the false back on the hives to the center, took out a few top bars, and pulled the feeder can from the first package (that's the silver can in the above picture, you can kind of see it on the top of the package).  Bees started coming out, but just crawling because it was cool.  Bees don't like to fly unless it's over 50 degrees F. 

We removed the queen cage (which you can't see, all the bees are massed around her), and then I turned the first package upside down and started shaking the bees into the first apiary:

At some point when I was forcibly shaking 20,000 cold, unhappy bees vigorously I thought, "What the f*ck am I doing?"

I had been worried about the chill, but it proved to be a good thing, they didn't fly around and mostly stayed put.  We then peeled back the screen on the queen cage, released her into that mass of bees, and closed up the apiary.  Then repeated for the second one.

 We put in a feeding tray in each one, with an old bamboo mat for traction and some slightly diluted honey:

When we were finished, they looked like this:

Those are the packages the bees came in on the bottom and the feeding cans we removed to the left of each apiary.  

The next day we wend and checked on them through the window.  The bees had done as we hoped and balled up at the top front of each hive:

It was still really chilly, though, so they weren't doing a whole lot. 

The day after, however, it was nice and sunny and they were out and about:

So cute!  And so docile!  We had no stings at all putting them in or for the next few days.  Got one on Friday when we fed them because I dropped a stick into the hive and went to get it back.  I guess it was THEIR stick, dammit.  But generally, they're very tame.

We love them.  They're so much fun to watch.  Inside that ball of bees they should be constructing comb, so we'll see how fast they go once the weather warms up and the flowers bloom.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Melissa!

    Please pass my warmest of welcomes to your wonderfully cute and adorably fuzzy new additions! Looks like they couldn't have asked for a better home. You have such a nice set-up and it's awesome that there are windows you can peek through. :)
    I can't wait to see what new exciting products these little bee beauties can contribute to!

    Warmest Wishes!