The new package of bees just after dumping them in their new home, the orange hive.
So today was sunny and chilly about 7am, but by 9am it was nice and warm. Today is “bee day” – when the big semi truck arrives at the bee supply store to deliver all of the bee packages for everyone who ordered them. This year, there were over 800 packages ordered.
I had emailed The Wiz a couple of weeks ago to see if it was too late to order a package. He said it was, but he thought there was going to be a cancellation and if so, he’d save me a package. At this point, I can’t be picky so I didn’t even care if it was Carniolans or Italians.
This morning, I called The Wiz about 9am and asked if he thought there might be one extra. He said he’d saved one for me and to hurry and get over there because it wasn’t a mad house yet. I quick looked at a video on YouTube on how to put in a package and release the queen because it’s been 5 years since I got a new package. I threw a box in the car just in case, HB jumped in to drive me the 5 minutes over there and we zipped over. The first of the newbies were still at their first class learning how to put in a bee package so they hadn’t arrived yet.
The new queen cage sitting tightly between two of the frames in the hive
I talked to The Wiz and one of the experienced guys and told them what I’d done to my queen on the deck and how I think I squished her wing. They laughed and laughed and then told me a story about the OF who had been inspecting one of his bee yards with tons of hives. He was merrily driving back home in his truck with his arm hanging out the window when he looked down and noticed a queen crawling up his arm towards his neck. I took her and plopped her in his shirt pocket, turned around and had to find the hive with the missing queen and put her back. So I don’t feel like such a rookie after all.
The girls in their new box with all the frames in
I got my package of bees, they’re Carniolans with a marked queen (wow, I’ve never had a marked queen before). 3 pounds of bees, a queen and a feeding can in a shoebox sized cage for $112. Not cheap, but there was no way I could go a year with the possibility of no bees.
We put the girls in the back of the car and whizzed back home in 5 minutes. I suited up and took out the orange screened bottom.
I put a box on that had 2 frames of honey, one on each wall and 6 drawn out and empty frames. Then I took another box just like that and a box with 8 frames of honey and a top.
I set up the one box with 6 frames and 2 of honey and put it on the bottom board. I removed the center 5 frames. I took out a spray bottle with thin sugar syrup and started the smoker. I then took out the bee package on the deck and gave a very tiny smoke to the box.
The new orange hive with the package box/cage sitting in front of the door, the tin feeding can that came with it, and the spray bottle of syrup I used to calm the bees.
You carefully pry out the tin can that has syrup in it, which opens a can sized hole in the cage. Then you reach in and pull out the queen in her cage, which is covered in bees. She has a big green dot on her shoulders.
I lightly sprayed both sides of the cage with sugar syrup to calm down the bees and get them busy licking each other instead of trying to fly out. You then take the whole cage, turn it upside down and just dump those girls out into the box with the frames removed. They just fill up the whole bottom of the box. You kind of thump the cage to get out as many girls as possible.
I then put the cage with the left over bees in front of the hive entrance so they could crawl out when they wanted. I gently pushed the bees around in the bottom of the box to smooth them out so they wouldn’t be squished. I very gently lowered the frames into the box so I didn’t smoosh them.
I took the queen cage, carefully popped out the cork and put my finger over the hole, then inserted a mini marshmallow in the hole. I put the cage, marshmallow side down, between two frames and pushed the frames together so the friction just holds the queen in her cage in there. The bees will eat out the marshmallow and release her, hopefully sometime today.
I put the rest of the two boxes and the lid on top.
I present to you – Queen Innløse of the orange hive- which means “redeemed” because I bought her.
I then decided to inspect the blue hive.
The bees in the bottom box of the blue hive. Just a small cluster
I removed the top 3 boxes which are entirely full of honey, and the 4th box which is mostly honey.
The 2nd box from the bottom had about 3 frames of bees and when I looked at the 3 frames they were on, they were cleaned out, no eggs, but the girls are packing in pollen and a little fresh nectar.
In the bottom box, there were 4 scant frames of bees, in a cluster. That’s not a lot of bees. I pulled all the middle frames and looked really carefully. I saw no virgin queen, but I’m not sure I’d know it if I spotted her. I saw no eggs but a lot of cleaned out cells.
The 4 previous capped queen cells are all chewed out so at least one queen must have either gotten out or they pulled them all out – who knows. All I can do is wait and see if they finally get a mated and laying queen, or if they all die out before that time. They’re still being industrious and bringing in pollen and nectar and cleaning away. So I put the hive back together.
I then put all my equipment away and since it was really warm, I went out in the garden and started watering and weeding. I looked back at the bee deck – now that’s a lot of activity. There were bees all over the place, way up to the roof of the house and all over the yard. They were just flying all over the place, getting used to their new home.
A close up of the 4 previous queen cells in the blue hive that have been torn open on the bottom.
I had one pesky little girl that was buzzing around in front of my face, like 1 inch in front of my face and she just wouldn’t give up. She kept landing ON MY FACE and on my neck and crawling around. I’d gently push her off and back she was. So since I had my hose I put the hose head on “mist” and misted myself which would make her go away. 3 minute after the mist was off, back she was, on my face and crawling around and on my neck. It was freaking me out a little. Was she ticked off and bothering me or did she think I was her mom? I spent a good 30 minutes playing this game until I was pretty wet from constantly misting myself and finally just gave up and left the garden.
I suddenly realized I may have been more at fault for the partial demise of the blue hive. The tradition of the “telling of the bees” says you must tell the bees of all the important events in the beekeepers life, such as deaths and births and celebrations. So you go out to the hive and whisper to them these events. If you don’t keep the bees up on the latest family events, they’ll punish you by leaving.
I’ve kept them up to date on this stuff in the past, but I realized I entirely forgot to tell them that their godfather (our sweet boy) had moved back to town and that he had his own little sweet boy now (4 months old). So I went out to the bee deck and spent a good 5 minutes whispering to the blue hive to catch them up.