My Bees Are In Their New Homes!

The New Hives

The New Hives

Well, for the most part. At least they’re around their new homes…

Even though my new bees arrived yesterday, I decided to wait until today to hive them because it got down to 28 degrees Farenheit last night.  The rest of this week (and with luck, the rest of this season!) is supposed to be above freezing.

I had plenty to do yesterday though, what with setting up the hives, gathering up all my equipment and putting the bees’ sugar syrup into quart glass jars with lids. That’s something new I came up with this year to make the syrup easier to handle.

One of the most important rules of beekeeping is to never leave sugar syrup out in the open around a hive, even for a minute. Sugar syrup attracts robbing insects of all kinds. I learned that the hard way. (Come to think of it, I’ve learned most everything about beekeeping the hard way…)

This year I loaded up a recyclable grocery bag with 4 quart jars of sugar syrup – easy to handle and hermetically sealed!

It was fun having the bees in my kitchen last night. They really do go to sleep. I made sure to turn off all the kitchen lights so they could have a good rest before Moving Day!

Today was perfect for installing a package. Temperature in the 50’s, no wind and partly cloudy. I’m more comfortable around my bees when I’m wearing a full bee suit, so the cooler the day, the better for me. Those bee suits are hot!

The bees still in the box will eventually make it into the hives by themselves.

The bees still in the box will eventually make it into the hives by themselves.

I would love to tell you that I was the picture of beekeeping professionalism. Not so much.

At least I didn’t hop around like I had St. Vitus’ Dance like I did the first time I installed a package. Oh, for a video of that performance!

But there are things I don’t remember until I start the installation process. Like how hard it is to get the frigging bee package open. And pry out the feeding can. And find the Queen cage. And jimmy out the cork at the end.

The frigging box should come with a handy hatchet to help open it!

The frigging box should come with a handy hatchet to help open it!

And get the frigging bees out of the box and into the hive. (I did what I usually do – just left the box there and let them move in by themselves. They’ll go anywhere the Queen is residing.)

And not squish too many. (Oh, the humanity!!)

It didn’t help that my back garden is slightly less steep than Mt. Everest and I put the new hives at the bottom.

The view down Mt. Everest...

The view down Mt. Everest…

The Mean Bees live at the top of the garden, and have clearly indicated that they don’t want any next door neighbors, even if they’re relatives.

The Mean Bees at the top of the garden

The Mean Bees at the top of the garden

But, all in all, a good day on Columbia Parkway!!

P.S. No, I didn’t get stung.  I usually don’t when hiving a package. My average is two stings per season, both while I am in the process of doing something stupid. 🙂

Queen Boadicea Has Ascended The Throne!

I know I was supposed to wait a week before checking on whether Queen Boadicea had escaped from the Queen cage, but I just couldn’t. The bees in the new hive were looking particularly orderly, so I had to take a peek.

Empty Queen Cage!

The Queen cage was empty.  The good thing about checking sooner rather than later is that the bees haven’t had a chance to make a lot of messy brace comb in the space where the cage was placed.

But was She alive?  I checked one or two frames before I found her, playing with her sisters!  She has apparently been accepted by the older girls, and will soon be Large And In Charge!!

What a good day!!

The Queen Is In Residence

Statue of Boadicea near Westminster in London

It was looking like it might rain, so I went ahead and installed the Queen in her new home.

To ensure that Boadicea‘s new subjects accept her, I am using an indirect method of release into the new hive.

There is a white plug of candy in one of the three circular holes in the Queen cage.

White Candy Plug

The Queen and her attendants will eat through the candy over the next few days and escape from the cage. This will give her subjects time to get acquainted with her and accept her as their monarch.

I am smearing wax and honey from the hive on the cage so that Boadicea will pick up the scent of the hive.

Smearing Wax And Honey On The Cage

I am also poking a hole in the candy plug to make it easier for the Queen and her attendants to escape. I’m careful not to stab any bees in the process!

Poking A Hole In The Candy Plug

Finally, I added two small nails to hold the cage in place between the brood frames.

Now I am ready to go!

It was great to hear the loud buzzing of the new colony as I removed the top super. The bees seemed interested in the new Queen and quickly surrounded the cage.

I was happy to see that the bees had already made progress in drawing out the empty frames. On one frame I saw the beginnings of a Queen Cell.

Now I will wait a week and check on the progress of the Queen.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Tomorrow, the extraction of honey from the old hive!

Things To Do In The Hives In June

Colonies will be boiling with bees this month! The Queen’s rate of egg laying may drop a bit.

Inspect the hive weekly to make sure the bees are healthy and the Queen is present. Make sure the bees have plenty of room for brood and honey. Add honey supers sooner rather than later.

Keep up swarm inspections.

Things To Do In The Hives In May

Hebe’s here, May is here!
The air is fresh and sunny;
And the miser-bees are busy
Hoarding golden honey.
–  Thomas Bailey AldrichMay

Activity in the hive has really increased! Nectar and pollen should be coming into the hive thick and fast. The Queen will reach her greatest rate of egg laying this month.

Watch out for swarming! Mother’s Day is the peak of the swarm season. (Not that there is much you can do about it now, except try to catch the swarm and start another colony.)

Inspect the hive weekly to make sure things are progressing smoothly.