Beau May 13th, 2008
It’s official, this is the wettest spring on record in our area. At least for the 100+ years that they’ve been keeping records. I find that amazing, considering the drought we’ve had the past few years during the summer. Hopefully this summer won’t be quite as dry. Tonight we’re due for a heavy rainstorm, but hopefully the warmer weather will set in this week.
I’ve been busy recently preparing for our new arrivals to Fox Haven… we’ve got bees! Yesterday I received the packaged bees in the mail (yes, via the post office!) and helped them into their new homes with new queens. I’m a little late in the season putting the bees in hives, but with as cool and wet as the weather has been, it may work out just right. Depending upon how they do this year, I hope to have another hive or two next year. It was pretty fun to do, and was a beautiful 75 degree day for the bees to move into their new homes.
Some more experienced beekeepers do this without protective gear on, but I’m a newbie beekeeper and prefer not to deal with welts on my face or hands right away. The bees were not really upset at all, but I’m a little clumsy and squished a few by accident. They weren’t very happy about that, but in each package there’s more than 9,000 bees. I was pleased that very few had died in transit in the packages.
But while installing one of the packages, the bees were a little more agitated for whatever reason, and I worked in a cloud of buzzing bees. Heck I would be buzzing around too if somebody dumped me unceremoniously in a box! But this package was much quieter, and the bees settled down fairly quickly. After getting both hives together with some sugar syrup to feed them, they were pretty quiet and settled in for the evening.
Here’s a picture of the wooden queen cage with the queen and some workers inside. Hard to get a picture of just the queen, but she was in there running around. The white stuff to the right is a gooey candy material that provides some food for the queen, and a block to prevent the other bees from getting in and hurting her. There’s actually a cork too that must be removed.
When they ship the bees, they are from different hives than the queen, so they must all get to know each other. Over the course of a few days they will become familiar with her scent and eventually chew through the candy material and let her out, hopefully accepting her into the hive.
It’s neat to watch them, and in a few days I’ll check and see how they are doing with the new queens. I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they turn into productive hives. We probably won’t take honey from them this year to make sure they have enough to get through next winter. But I may not be able to resist a frame or two in late summer if all goes well. So begins the journey of keeping bees!