Monday, April 20, 2015


So here is the process I went through on Saturday and Sunday.
Lots of pics, be forewarned!  

I drove to the apiary (I love that word) on a gray, overcast day, hoping the rain would hold off (it did).  At the shop, there were packages of bees with queens waiting for their new homes.  Each package had the name of the owner on it so I found ours right away.

They were loaded into the back of the Jeep.  I wanted to use the Fiat, but it's a small car and 20,000 passengers might not fit, LOL.  Driving with humming bees in the back was an interesting experience.  As I stopped at a light, I realized I was one distracted driver away from making the nightly news.

Prior to leaving, a 5th Generation apiarist gave us a live demo on hiving.  He had this great idea to make sure the queen stays.  For the first week or so, he suggests leaving a queen excluder on the bottom of the hive.  The workers can come and go but she can't.  Great idea, so I set ours up that way.

His other method, less stressful on the bees when being 'installed' was to place the package box into the hive box for the first 24 hours.  I simply removed some of the frames to make room, more on that in a bit.  Oh, and I had a spray bottle mixed with sugar water, it calms them as they slow down to eat.

Here's another use for canning jars!  This is called a BOARDMAN FEEDER.  It mounts at the front entrance of the hive and uses an upside down jar filled with sugar water.  Tiny holes in the lid (it comes that way) allow the bees to go underneath and get the 'food'.

The first thing you do before installing the package is to take out the queen cage.  The queen is in a small cage that has a candy plug at one end, covered by a cork.  You remove the cork, exposing the candy stopper to the bees.  They will eat through the candy to get to the queen.  This takes a few days and the time allows them to adapt to their new queen.  Her cage has a little strap that you staple to one of the frames.  You can see the queen excluder below the frame she is attached to (metal wire).

Next comes the new part that he demonstrated.  You put the package carrying all the bees inside the hive and open it.  I was also taught to take a scoop full of bees and 'sprinkle' them over the queen cage.  Needles to say, I couldn't do this AND take a photo at the same time, ha.

Lastly, you put the inner cover on, the roof (or outer cover) on top of that and just leave them alone.  You can see here that a few already started coming out to explore their new home and surroundings. 

Flash forward 24 hours and here it is on Sunday.  I removed the roof and inner cover and pulled out the package.  Sure enough, they were almost all out of the box (will always have a few stragglers).  I simply put the box in front of the hive and in about two hours, it was empty.

In the space where the 'bee box' was, I put the frames with foundation back in.  See where the bees are all clustered?  This is where the queen is!  They are working hard to take care of her and get her out of 'queen jail', ha.  I used my bee brush to gently move them out of the way and put the top back. 
Setting up Langstroth Hives
Here they are, all back together and as you can see, happily gathering around for some dinner.  Believe it or not, I did all of this work without my bee suit.  This will probably be the only time I do that though.  I made slow, gentle, and confident movements, as is always suggested when working with bees.  Never get in a hurry.  I was wearing jeans, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a hat.  Our instructor told us that the bees are at their most docile at this point as they have no real hive to protect, no honey stores to guard, and at this point, no real queen that they are bonded to.  

Now we wait.

Oh, and in case you missed it (late post last night) CLICK HERE to see what we named our hives/queens.

I am off today and will go out to refill the feeder and make sure all is well with the hives in general, and then I will probably go out once more again Wed/Thur before the weekend.  The last step, after about 7 days (which will be Saturday), is to make sure the queen is still there, out of her cage, and then I can remove the excluder (because now she should stay put) and then just leave them alone and let them do their thing.  Bees don't require you to check daily as it creates disruption to the hive.  It sure is tempting though to peek inside!

I know I said this the other day but I'll say it again, it truly was a magical experience.  One of the awesome life experiences I can file away in my mind.  It  made me nervous at first but it was exhilarating at the same time.  

As a friend recently told me, "keeping bees is one of the best ways to be a steward of the land we all share".  So true!

Thank you for bearing with us through the excitement leading up the bee arrival.  Bees might not be everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, but I hope these posts help anyone else just starting out with a Langstroth hive.  I'm still learning myself so I'll keep it up until I, hopefully, become an 'old pro'.  If anyone visiting here is seeking more information, click the "bees" label/tag at the bottom of this post or over to the right under "labels".  Tomorrow we go back to other, regular topics, with bees thrown in as updates happen, ha.  Oh and 2nd Man always likes to draw the names for the giveaway so we'll do that either tonight or tomorrow, depending on what time we get settled in for the evening.

Hope you had an exhilarating weekend too!  


  1. This is a very interesting post and great pics. Keeping bees is something I always wanted to do but don't expect it will happen now, so instead I'll be watching your progress with interest.
    Good luck.

  2. Do you use an inner cover? Your hives are beautiful. I am installing two packages this saturday and I am hoping the rain holds off. Nothing worse than an angry swarm of bees. They butt your veil and it does get a bit scary. Good luck.
    Now the work begins.

  3. this is so exciting. i love following the process.

  4. oh wow! you are making your bee instructor so proud! and doing such a good job with your bees! they will reward your efforts and hard work for the rest of your lives! kudos!

    your friend,

  5. Sounds like you are coming along beautifully. We need more bee keepers.

  6. Such a cool post! Very informative.

  7. I am so enjoying these posts about the bees - how exciting. Looking forward to all your updates :-)
    Happy days...
    Cheers, Helen

  8. How exciting !
    I learned so much from reading through your bee-keeping posts, and had no idea all what is involved.
    You are indeed stewards of the land, doing their utmost .

  9. This has been exciting. Anytime you have a bee post, I will be eagerly reading. You and second man are good steward of the land.

  10. How very interesting and informative. You explain in easy to understand ways, too. Your hives are beautiful and I think your bees will be pampered and happy. Can't wait for your post when you harvest your first honey.

  11. I've been missing lately, but WOW this is so exciting from one former apiarist to a newbie! This will be one of the best experiences you've e.v.e.r. had! I'll be watching eagerly!

  12. Absolutely fascinating. Thank you sooooo much.

  13. Congratulations on joining the bee clan, yours hives are so nice and shiny, I hope they bring you a lot of pleasure and honey, I did a hive check yesterday the first two hives were all busy as they should be and number 3 had been deserted, yet 2 weeks ago it was really busy, they have moved on to pastures new it happens unfortunately, I am hoping to increase our hive numbers up to six this year. :-)

  14. Thanks for showing us all you did to set up the hives! I might never have my own, but I really enjoyed learning so much from you. Hope they will stay happy and healthy and provide you with lots of honey!

  15. I am so pleased for you. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about this adventure and have learned heaps. I won't be getting bees myself.....ever, but I'm really enjoying experiencing it through your eyes.

  16. What a great post. In fact, it's been a great series of posts. Well done. I love the names you chose for your hives. Very classy. Here's hoping for happy, thriving bees and lots of honey.

  17. Ok thats just it! I am offcially green from head to toe at this moment. Ya I am just green with envy... Love your hives and bees. Stamping my foot "I want my hives now!" lol You have just done a wonderful job with it all!

  18. So, do the adjacent hives not "compete" with each other. I mean battling Queens or some such. Or rather worker bees battling for their Queen?

  19. 1st Man,

    Great post!!! I love how you joked around about 20,000 passengers :-)
    No peaking now, let them do their thing!!!

  20. I am enjoying your journey into bee-keeping so much - you really know how to explain it in an understandable way.
    I know one thing for sure - I will have a deeper appreciation of every drop of honey from now on - there is a LOT of work involved in honey production - humans and bees both! Y’all are very good stewards of the earth!

  21. Wow!! How Interesting. Your posts have been so informative & understandable that I'm tempted to try my hand at a hive in the backyard. BTW, I love the names of your queens. Have a good week. M

  22. Afternoons in the summer I like to sit in a camp chair to the side of the hive away from their flight path and watch the foraging bees land at the entrance with their pollen sacks full. They are greeted by the guard bees at the entrance. Amazing how bees operate. If you have an open field, consider broadcasting white clover seeds. Easy and the bees love it.

  23. I can't begin to tell you how interesting this is for me! I enjoy your blog and watching you transform the farm!! Thank you for sharing so much with us!


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