Home Sweet Home Part 2

On April 28th the small cell, treatment free bees arrived. The post office called me right before 8am asking me to come pick them up. Their hive was ready and I had prepared 1:1 sugar water for them. When I got to the post office, they let me know that the bees were out on the dock.
There were two packages that had been delivered that day to my town. The postal workers were not happy because some of the bees had gotten out of the packages. They thought that I was picking up both packages and when I told them that I had only ordered one, it forced them to actually read the label to see that there was someone else that ordered some too. I am sure that they called that person right away as well.
I put them in the car to drive them home. There were a few bees on the outside of the package, but they seemed to want to stay there. It wasn’t a problem for them to be out, they stayed on the side of the package for the short drive home.
The weather was decent and the bees had been in the package for around 7 days, so I needed to get them into the hive. The lid on this package was a little more work to pry off. The bees had begun to put wax on the can of sugar water that they had, but it came out easily. The bees seemed to be a bit agitated.
I got the queen box out and checked the queen. She had three attendants in with her. All of the attendants were dead. The queen was still alive. After taking the cork out, I attached the queen box to bar 13. I had the bees between bars 13 and 29 and they had open access to the feeders. Once the queen was in I shook the package to get as many of the bees into the hive as possible.
I noticed a sharp pain in my leg and I ignored it. The pain got worse and I realized that I had been stung. I stopped the installation, cleaned the sting site with rubbing alcohol, and changed my pants. I didn’t want to give these grumpy bees any more reasons to sting me.
The rest of the installation went without incident. Once the bees were in the hive I went inside to check on my sting. That worker bee left quite a welt for me. The area swelled up to about a 4 inch diameter and was bright red. After that I was feeling grumpy too.
The next day is when I realized that I needed to fix the feeders, just as I had with the other hive. In the morning I looked through the observation window to see what they were up to. The bees were all balled up, but they were nowhere near the queen. They were right next to the feeders though.
The sting that I had received was still hurt quite a lot, so I was not thrilled to think about opening this hive and disturbing these bees. Of course, I knew that if I didn’t it would be a lot more difficult to deal with the feeders later and I was concerned about them not taking care of the queen. When it was warm enough out, I opened the hive.
The first issue to deal with was the feeders and putting it behind the divider board. I had two more pencil pieces to put under the divider board to provide space for the bees to go in and out. The bees were not as grumpy this time, so it was a bit easier to be in the hive. I was still nervous about getting stung again though.
After the feeder was dealt with, I needed to check on the queen. I removed the cork from the other side of the queen box to allow her to just walk out. I also moved the bar with the queen cage to  the middle of the ball of bees. The bees had begun to build some comb and some of them were already foraging.
I found it strange that the bees were ignoring the queen and I wanted to talk to someone about it. I called Christy Hemenway from Gold Star Honey Bees. I ordered this package of bees from her. I am so glad that I called her. When we were talking she mentioned that it was possible that there was another queen in there that was not in a separate box. That could explain why they were not taking care of the queen in the box. I had heard of that happening, but I did not think about it. She also told me to give them about 3 days to let the queen out and then check on them again.
On Saturday May 2nd it was time to get back into the hive. I decided to use the smoker to try to help calm the bees. Their sugar water was still almost full, but I think that they have been eating out of the hummingbird feeder and I have seen them bringing pollen in. I took out the queen box and the queen was no longer in the box. I checked the hive a little, but I didn’t want to be too disruptive.
The bees seemed clam while I was inspecting the hive, but I wanted to keep in short. They had started to build a few combs and I looked at them a little. I did not spot the queen nor did I see eggs. There was some cells with fluid in  them and I saw bees continuing to bring in pollen. I will check them again in a few days to see how things are progressing. In the meantime, I can open the observation window to get a quick peek at what’s going on in there.

Home Sweet Home Part 1

The bees for the top bar hive that is at the host house arrived this morning. I got up early, got everything ready, and then went to pick them up from New England Beekeeping Supplies. There were hundreds of packages of bees, many were in a trailer with a fan blowing to help cool them down. The package that I got to take was already out of the trailer.
It’s quite something to ride in the car with approximately 10,000 honey bees sitting next to you. While we were driving, they made an occasional soft humming noise. The drive home was uneventful.
I stopped at my house to pick up my family before we headed over to the host house. We made sure we had everything we needed. When we got to the host house the first thing that we had to do was make sure the hive was still level. We also needed to tighten the stand and set up the feeders. I had placed a drop of lemongrass essential oil in the hive before I went up to get the bees. I wanted the oil to have a little time to air out before the bees moved in.
Once the hive was ready and the feeders were in it was time to open the package. My daughter was very excited to help with this part. I used the hive tool and opened the top of the package. My daughter held the queen cage up as I pulled out the can of sugar water. We got the queen box out and brushed off the bees that were on it.
The queen is alive and she was walking around in her box. The cork needed to be pulled out of the queen box, but I had some difficulty. My husband had to get his knife out to finally dig the little piece of cork out. Then the queen box was ready to go into the hive, so I set her on the bottom.
Now the exciting part: I got to bang a box full of bees onto the ground to try to force them all to one area of the package. Then I poured them into the hive! I had to bang the box a few times to get the majority of the bees into the hive. There was still a big clump of bees in the box that I could not get out. I set the box under the hive to allow the bees to come out and find their new home. I carefully placed all of the top bars back in the hive and closed the lid.
I came back several hours later and all of the bees that were in the box when I left were still there. It had been raining all day and it was cold. I needed to get the rest of the bees into the hive. I decided to open up the bars that are over the feeders in the hopes that less bees would be right there. It was a good decision.
Once the hive was opened again, I tried to bang on the box a little more and shake the bees out. Some of the bees came out, but not all of them. I broke open the box and tore off the screen to get the rest of the bees out and into the hive. I was able to get most of them and I placed the box back under the hive to give the few bees left a chance to find the opening.
I will go back tomorrow to check on them and see how things are going. It has been raining most of today and there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow morning. I will wait until the rain has ended and then I will see how they are doing. Hopefully I can just look in through the window so that I don’t have to disturb them by opening the hive.

 

The package of bees.
The package of bees.
Opening the top.
Opening the top.
Pouring honey bees into the hive.
Pouring honey bees into the hive.
Look at all of those bees!
Look at all of those bees!
Putting the top bars back into place.
Putting the top bars back into place.
Closing up the hive.
Closing up the hive.
Peeking into the window.
Peeking into the window.
All moved in.
All moved in.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home