For this year's installation, I did it a bit differently.
First of all, I had to go pick them up. Here they are, 10,000 bees and one queen. All passengers in the back seat. As I imagined last year, I was one car accident away from making the national news...or the Darwin Awards, LOL!.
There is however a soothing hum that emanates from the box, it reminds me of a machine of some sort. Upon reflection, I guess a functioning hive IS a machine of sorts.
I gathered up all the parts, the smoker, my suit, and some tools and got ready. Again, you want to have everything together and ready because you don't want to be running around trying to find stuff with 10,000 bees waiting.
First I put the stand and bottom board onto the metal stand. I also got the supers and other hive components ready with the frames in place.
|Package of bees with queen|
Here is the package of bees, ready for queen extraction. The spray bottle is filled with sugar water, you spritz the bees and it makes them more docile, albeit temporarily. They are too busy eating. I think we can relate, ha. This is a standard package. That round can is the feeding can. It's filled with sugar water and feeds the bees while they are in the package. That metal strip you see is actually holding the queen cage. Be careful as you pull the metal can out (this leaves a large hole filled with bees), and hold on to the queen cage.
Here is what it looks like when you pull it out. The queen is in there, sealed up at both ends by a "candy" plug. The bees all over it are called "attendant bees". They are trying to serve their queen, grooming her, feeding her, etc. She is in the cage however and so their goal becomes to eat through the candy plugs to get her out. During this time, the thousands of bees bond, hopefully, to her and accept her as their queen.
Here is where I had a bit of a problem. I went to pop what I thought was a small cork out of the end where the plug was (so the bees can get to her easily) but it was the end of the candy plug and I inadvertently released her! D'oh! It happens, especially if they been working hard to get through the candy plugs. She climbed out onto one of the frames. Thankfully, I ordered her "clipped and marked", so that means I could find her easily (she had a bright blue dot marked on her) and she can't fly away. Now I only had to worry about accidentally smashing her.
|Package of bees in the hive|
Here is how I did it a bit differently. Conventional wisdom has the bees aggressively shaken out of their box and "poured/dumped" into the hive. This seemed to me last year to be kind of aggressive compared to what should be a gentle procedure (everything you do when working with bees should always be slow and gentle). I found several places online that suggested this method. You use an empty 'super' or two to create the space. I placed the package, once the can was removed and the queen was in the lower frames, upside down so that the bees can find their way out.
You have to be gentle when you place the package down so that you don't kill any, or certainly as few as possible. In my case, I had to also worry about the queen roaming around. Anyway, by doing this, they can come out at their own pace instead of being unceremoniously dumped. They will find the queen (usually in her cage) and then release her. In this case, they found her quickly. Just put the top back on and wait. NORMALLY, you wait a few days and check to see if the queen is out of the cage but in our case, I don't have to worry
about that. Now I just have to hope they all bond with her.
On Sunday I went back out and checked and they were coming in and out like they should. That jar is the Boardman Feeder. It has sugar water to keep them fed while they acclimate to their new surroundings.
When you pull the package out, most of the bees have moved into the hive. The few stragglers still inside will find their way home if you leave it on the ground next to the hive.
Here is a shot of the skies I was fending off both days. Welcome to the world ladies, the rainy season is coming!