Our plan was to install one package of bees at my Aunt's house that day and install the other package the next day.
This is our first installation and I think it went pretty smoothly:
|Here we are preparing the hive for the bees. The beekeepers are my Aunt Patty (yellow boots), Don (good family friend who has made a one year commitment to beekeeping, he won't make any promises after that) and myself. I dress very meticulously before working with the bees, I've already mentioned my goal of 5 stings or less so proper wardrobe management is essential!!|
You'll notice our package of bees has an opening at the top plugged with an aluminum can. The can is filled with sugar syrup which nourished the bees on their long truck ride from California to Illinois. I am spraying the bees with a sugar syrup mixture which wets them down a bit so they are less likely to fly out of the hive as we're dumping them in. The Queen is also in the package but in her own separate little cage, it is very important you take the Queen out of the package before dumping the bees in, remember that, we don't want to give the Queen a concussion. I sprayed these bees pretty good, and I'm confident they approved of my sugar syrup recipe, one of my culinary successes!
As you can see in this shot, the hive is ready for the bees, and I'm still dousing them with sugar syrup (probably a little overkill at this point, you notice Patty and Don
Here's the Queen in her cage. The picture is sideways and my two attempts to fix that were unsuccessful so just tilt your head as far to the right as you possibly can... there, is that better? So there she is, our amazing Queen who will increase this hive population from a mere 9,000 bees to approximately 60,000 in just a few short months. Man, will she be busy! She has already gone on her one and only nuptial flight and mated with a bunch of drones (that's what male bees are called and incidentally all they are good for is mating with the Queen, seriously. I'm not making that up) so she has all the "supplies" she needs stored up in that little bee body of hers to produce at least a few years worth of colonies. Some beekeepers re-Queen each year and some also mark their Queens so they know how old they are. There is a universal marking system with a different color you use each year to keep track. We left our Queen un-marked and I think we'll keep her around as long as she's productive. No sense in de-throning the Queen when she's getting the job done! But the minute she starts laying erratic brood patterns, she's gettin' the boot (or finger squash, rather). You can see Patty in the background, dumping the bees.
Here you can see our package is almost empty. The bees are content in the hive, and yet I continue to spray them with sugar syrup, excessively. Totally not necessary. But come on, I'm a newbie, or how about "newbee"?? Ha ha! Get it?? Not funny?? Okay. Well now it's time to put the Queen in. There is a small piece of cork at the top of the Queen cage that was removed and I jammed a little piece of marshmallow in the hole to keep her in the cage for a bit longer. This is the "lets get acquainted" period for everyone- the Queen cage is hooked on to one of the frames and put into the hive along with all the worker bees (who are sufficiently drenched at this point, possibly near drowning even) and the worker bees will now take the next few hours/days eating their way through the marshmallow to release the Queen. As the worker bees work at releasing their Queen, they become familiar with the pheromones she gives off, accept her as Queen Bee and begin to distinguish their own true dasein (Bob, that was for you, honey love. Was that the correct use of the term?? ) this is the beginning of the colony - social order in it's most natural and articulate form will soon be observed over the next few days/months, and it's friggin awesome. I just got chills.
Package 1 installation- SUCCESS!