On Saturday, April 9th we loaded up the top bar hives and drove them over to Old Frog Pond Farm. I had been out at the farm earlier in the week to try to identify locations for the two hives. The farm is very beautiful and peaceful. There will be a lot of forage and water for the bees to enjoy. We found two wonderful places to put the hives.
We set up the first hive close to a couple of large willows on the banks of the pond. It took a bit of work and tweaking to get the hive completely level, but it turned out very well. I put 6 bars of comb and honey from the old hive into it and I put empty bars in between them. I plugged all of the entrance holes to make sure that nothing else moved into the hive before Monday.
The second hive is in the apple orchard. It is set off to the side and close to another pond. We made sure it was completely level, we have to move it around a bit to make it that way. This hive also got 6 bars with comb and honey. I am so happy that there was plenty of comb and honey to split between the two hives. I plugged all of the entrance holes in this hive too.
On Monday the 11th we packed up the all of our beekeeping gear and equipment and went to pick up the bees. Then we took the bees to their new home. We installed the bees in the Orchard hive first. The weather was a bit on the cool side. Luckily, everything was ready for the bees to move in. Before installing the bees, I removed the cork that was blocking the main entrance. There is still an entrance reducer in place, but now it is open for them. The installation went very smoothly and the bees seemed very happy to have drawn comb and honey already waiting for them.
I installed the packages the same way that I had last year. I removed the feeder can from the package first and then took the queen cage out. Once the queen cage was out, I covered the hole back up to try to reduce the amount of bees flying. I checked on the queen to make sure she was alive and well and then I attached her cage to a bar that had a comb that only covered about 3/4 of the bar. This was the bar that was the first after the divider board on the left side of the hive.
Then it was time to dump the rest of the bees into the hive. This year it seemed so much easier than last and last year wasn’t that difficult. I bonked the package onto the ground to shake the bees to one area and then turned it over and poured them into the hive. It’s amazing to me how most of them just let go and allow themselves to be poured into the hive. I tried to get as many of them out of the package as I could and then I sat the package in front of the entrance hole.
After the Orchard hive was installed and closed up, we went across the street to the Willow hive. The process of installation was exactly the same. I had a little more difficulty getting the cork out of the queen cage, but it all worked out. These bees seemed just as happy as the others about their new home. They went in easily and the overall mood was happy. It was so nice to install both of the hives and have things go so smoothly and without incident. After last year, I am really hoping to keep the amount of stings that I get to an extreme minimum.
There are times when I am still a bit nervous being around the bees, but when I am in all of my gear I feel so much more confident. The bees take notice of that too. My host hive colony really showed me that last year, so I pan to continue to keep suited up and regain my confidence. This year it will be a bit more involved for me to visit all of my hives. The host hive is in the same town, but the two new hives are about 15 minutes away. It might be good for me to have a little distance, then I can think about other things in my life too…like my garden! Since spring is here, I am thinking a lot about my garden.
Now that the Willow and Orchard hives are installed and everyone seemed to move in quickly, I will return in a few days to check on the queens. I will be looking for them to be released and accepted into the colony and seeing if they start laying. I am not sure what the timeline will look like since both colonies have prebuilt comb to work with.
I am very happy that I had honey to provide for each of the colonies. Sugar syrup is not that great of a diet and I am not interested in feeding the bees any of the other garbage that is marketed to beekeepers for feeding bees. If there is a need, I will offer the bees sugar syrup. To start though, they will just have the honey that is in the combs. I think that it should be enough to get them going since there is already forage coming up for them.