Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Bees Have Arrived!

Last night my husband picked up our long awaited arrivals.  I was so excited, we were all waiting for him outside when he got home.  We then gathered all the equipment and took them back to a temporary platform for the hive (last years compost bin).  We intend to build them a platform that is further in the trees, where the hive will be shaded most of the time, to avoid overheating in the summer months.

In preparation of their homecoming, I had done a few things to ensure them a happy home.

1.  I read alot of books, online articles, and beekeeping forums.  I STILL need to learn so much more.
2.  I purchased a top bar beehive.  I read that these were the most natural home for bees, resulting in healthier, happier, and calmer bees.
3.  I melted pure beeswax and coated the top bars to encourage the bees to form their honeycomb from each of these bars.
4.  I prepared the sugar syrup they will need until spring really kicks in here.  When the temperatures warm up and they are able to find their own nectar, I will not need to feed them.  I also read that organic honey was a better choice of feed (makes sense), but I had none on hand.
5.  My husband purchased a bee hat.  Today we will be adding a hand brush and possibly more bee clothing items for a full suit.  We are debating on a smoker.  I read they were unnecessary with a top bar hive.  But then again, I am not the one who got stung. :)

Ready to introduce them to their new home.
Sorry this pic is blurry.  After taking it I found precious little, sticky fingerprints all over my camera. :)  Clean, clean, clean and continue!

The box containing 3lbs of Carnolian bees and their queen.

We have now opened the box by removing the feeder can (tin can filled with sugar syrup).

My husband grabbing the queen capsule.

Removing the cork on the queen capsule.
Sometimes they use candy to close this and the bees can open it themselves.

Hanging the queen capsule from a bar.

The queen capsule now hanging inside the hive.

The overturned box on top of the hive.  At this point the bees were still so incredibly calm, that we felt safe to  give the children a closer look.

A sandwich bag of sugar syrup with small cuts of top for the bees to drink, and a pollen brick for them to eat.

Clumps of bees coming out of the box.

After these photos were taken, we realized the majority of the bees simply weren't coming out of the box as easily as we had hoped.  Probably because of the temperatures, between 50 and 60 yesterday afternoon, they were too cold and sleepy.
So we really bundled up my husband, bee hat, gloves, sweatshirt, duct tape around the wrists and sent him to work.  He had to really shake up the box and thump it to get them out, and used a tuft of grass to seep them into the hive.  The bees were NOT as calm about this treatment.  But if they were left, half in the box, half in the hive, we were sure they would not be able to maintain temperature and would all die.  My husband did get stung 4 times through his sweatshirt during this process.  Fortunately he has no major reaction from bee stings, not to say it doesn't hurt!  And fortunately we won't have to be so rough with them.... ever again.
I was taking video of this portion of the process, but I was so intrigued by it I didn't keep the camera pointed right half of the time and was blabbing the whole time. :)

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