Last year I was excited and nervous, so I didn't try to take photos. In fact, I had to take a card and write out all the steps for hiving the bees. This year I was just excited. I mentally rehearsed the steps and got everything ready, including my camera.
The first step is to pry off the cover of the bee package.
|A hive tool comes in handy for many things.|
Under the cover is the syrup can. The next step is to pull it out.
Being heavy, it's a little awkward to grab the rim and remove. The white packing strap holds the queen cage in place (unlike last year).
The queen cage is pulled out and inspected to make sure the queen is alive. She is bigger than her attendant bees and marked with a white dot on her back. The color of the dots changes every year so the beekeeper knows how old his or her queen is.
|She's in there, alive and hopefully well.|
In the above photo you can see that the queen's box has three round chambers. There is a cork plug at each end. The chamber on the left contains sugar candy. The cork on that end is removed.
The bees will eat through the candy to release the queen. This is referred to as an indirect release, as opposed to a direct release. Direct release means the beekeeper releases the queen rather than letting the bees do it. Direct release is not considered the safest way unless the bees are accustomed to that particular queen. If she's in any way unfamiliar to them, they will kill her.
There are different methods for hiving the bees, so what I'm going to show you is not the only way. For those who may not visit my blog often or may not remember, my hives are top bar Warré beehives. (Details here.) To receive the bees, each hive is set up with two boxes like you saw in the first photo. The queen cage is placed on the top bars of the bottom hive box.
Next the bees are dumped rather unceremoniously out of the package and into the hive on top of the queen.
Some folks make room for the package inside the hive, but if I did that I'd have to go back in and remove it. I'd rather not disturb my bees any more than I have to; let's just have one big brouhaha rather than two smaller ones. I will have to remove the queen cage in the near future, but that will be less of a disturbance.
After the majority of the bees are dumped in, the top bars of the top box are put in place.
The feeder comes next, taking care not to squash any bees while putting it on. I used my bee brush to brush away any bees that were in the way and then slid the feeder slowly into place.
|I am using 1:1 sugar syrup (by weight) with homemade Honey-B-Healthy|
This year I made my HBH with powdered lecithin instead of liquid lecithin.
I think the essential oils blended with the sugar water much more quickly.
The trick is to let the powder soak about an hour before blending in the oils.
The above photo was actually taken the next day when I topped off the feeder. Last year the feeder was open when I put it on and I had a number of bees fly into the syrup and drown. This year I kept it covered with a piece of plywood, sliding the plywood off as I slid on the quilt.
|The quilt is a simple box with a burlap bottom. It is filled with an|
absorbent material to insulate and absorb excess moisture in the hive.
Lastly I put on the roof. The package still had quite a few bees inside, so I laid it near the hive entrance. By nightfall they found their way into the hive.
So here they are. May I present
The last thing I did was to put a welded wire skunk guard around each of the hives. I'll have more on that in an upcoming post, along with other precautions I'm taking to keep my bees safe.
I placed a strip of wood in each entrance to make them smaller at first. The bees have a lot to do to get established, so having a smaller opening will make it easier to defend the hive against potential invaders.
Honeybees make me so happy.
Next - Queen Check