Monday, April 11, 2016

HOW TO INSTALL A PACKAGE OF BEES

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.

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!


27 comments:

laurie said...

how to install bees,, now there's something you don't here said everyday lol,,


wow this is fascinating!!
very interesting!!
so much work!!

Anonymous said...

Wow that's so neat thanks for sharing and thanks for keeping gees the world needs more!
Kelley v

Jamie said...

Fascinating hope the bees do great and you have lotsa honey!!

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much. A truly informative post - and I love the gentle approach. To almost everything.

kymber said...

1st Man - with Pioneer Preppy (King Bee Guy), Leigh (Queen Bee) and now you (Bee Prince) - by the time we get to bees we are going to know everything about them because of you 3 and all of your incredibly detailed posts! thanks for all of the information, explanation and pics!

sending much love to you both! your friend,
kymber

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i just can't get enough of this. i would love to have bees but i am SO allergic.

Margaret said...

Dumping them in definitely sounds like a very rough way to handle any creature. If I were a bee, I would thank you for the much more gentle introduction to my new home!

Mike Yukon said...

OK be honest,,,,, how many stings did you get ! :-)

anne marie in philly said...

the pix give me the creeps, but I hope the new hive is settling in.

Texas Rose said...

Happy Bees make a Happy Farm! All those new pollinators will benefit all the Farm's plant life.

1st Man said...

Thank you! It's fun work!

1st Man said...

AWw, thanks for that!

1st Man said...

We are hoping for a lot of honey too!! Thanks!

1st Man said...

Gentle wins in most cases huh? :-)

1st Man said...

Bee Prince? I'll TAKE it!!! Hey, I'm learning as much as I can but some of it is just learning as we go along. Much in life is like that huh? LOL! Much love to you!!

1st Man said...

I understand. Live vicariously through us and you'll be safe! :-)

Elephant's Child said...

There are some occasions where gentle is too slow. Pushing someone out of danger for example. Mostly, gentle is much the best.

1st Man said...

It does seem rough to be. I've seen lots of videos where they just shake it and tap it on he side of the hive. I like gentle for sure.

1st Man said...

Hey Mike!! None! Of course I was covered from heat to toe and fingertip to fingertip. :-)

1st Man said...

LOL I understand, some people are freaked out by bees. Fingers crossed!

1st Man said...

Yep, there will be all sorts of benefits, probably many we'll never even know (bees do fly up to two miles from their hive). :-)

1st Man said...

You are wise!! So perfectly true!!!

Colleen said...

Very Interesting. Thanks for showing us the steps involved.
I must say tho; I'm sure glad I'm here and the bees are there. :}

1st Man said...

Ha!! It's ok I totally understand. Bees aren't for everyone. Heck, a few years ago I might have said the same thing, ha.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Your first hive seems to be doing nicely. Now you're adding another, and this post documenting receiving them, and creating a new home for them is amazing. Can't wait until you're harvesting honey :-)

1st Man said...

Thank you, I can't wait to harvest time too!! :-)

Leigh said...

Excellent post and I was so relieved to read that the queen climbed into the frames. I had a similar experience last year and all was well! Every thing looks really good. Is your farm on high ground? All that rain is very worrisome.