April 20, 2015

Hiving Success! (But I Wish I'd Gotten Those Bee Gloves)

Honeybee pickup was Saturday, although there was some question as to whether the rain would cause a postponement. It poured all Friday night but Saturday brought clearing skies and sunshine - perfect!

3-pound package of Italian honeybees. They are clustered
around the syrup can & queen cage at the top of the box.

I originally planned to bring the package inside on the back porch temporarily, but changed that to the bench outside the porch door. That was because the bee pick-up area had bees flying everywhere and the packages had dozens of loose bees on them, including the package the gentleman handed me. All the way home I could hear busy buzzing in the back of my jeep. After I got them unloaded, I lightly sprayed the package screens with sugar syrup mixed with a touch of Honey-B-Healthy. By the time I came back out with my camera, all was quiet as the bees feasted.

The exciting moment came during the installation process after I removed the sugar syrup can. I pulled on the attached shipping strap to which the queen cage was supposed to be attached. No queen cage! Now what. I was pretty sure it was on the bottom of the package under a pile of bees. I quickly called the bee folks who told me to dump them into the hive and try to catch the cage as it fell out. Just what I wanted to hear, especially since bee gloves are still on my to-get list.

I procrastinated getting bee gloves because I hadn't planned to use them for this procedure, although I know they're handy for certain situations. It appeared I had one of those certain situations. I grabbed Dan's welding gloves which are way too big and therefore awkward, but I managed to catch the queen cage and proceed as I was supposed to.

With a Warré hive the bees are dumped into the top
box. The queen cage has already been placed on the
top bars of the bottom box. The package is leaned by
the hive entrance for whatever doesn't get shaken out

The next morning (yesterday, Sunday) it was raining again. Less bees were flying but some were on the outside of the hive. I checked my feeder and added more sugar/HBH syrup. Lots of bees were busy feeding which made me happy. The package box was empty so I took that away. The weather is supposed to clear in a day or so and I'll check the queen cage then. I'm fairly certain she's free because I followed the advice to poke a small starter hole in the candy.

Some of you have asked about the placement of our hive. I tried to choose a spot which would have a decent amount of summer shade, plus be protected from bitter winter wind. Below is a detail from our 2015 Master Plan.

Detail of our current Master Plan including bee garden and more.
Things we've added are in blue. The blue lines indicate fencing.

The red dot is where Honeysuckle Hive is located. On the full version of the plan that side yard is named "Bird Garden." As you can see, we have renamed it "Bee Garden" because I believe it will accommodate several more hives. What's nice is that I can see the hive from my kitchen window (near the blue dot which is one of our rainwater collection tanks).

So far so good! I still have a lot to learn, but I'm looking forward to learning it. While I'm at it, I think I'll get a couple pairs of bee gloves. :)

Next - First Hive Check


jewlz said...

Darn it, between all you bee keeping bloggers who're over the moon 'bout your...bee herds? flocks? , and that adorably painted hive of yours, I feel myself starting to get sucked in ;/...still hope I don't, but will be looking fwd to hearing what you find with re: to bees & crop productivity.

Chris said...

So did you avoid getting stung? I've heard bees don't turn aggressive when re-homing the queen, as their priority is getting the hive started.

I'm sure if you ever had to weld two bees together, Dan's gloves may come in handy, but otherwise I'm sure it was like trying to play the piano under water! Your persistence paid off though.

Love your hive. :)

Leigh said...

JW, what can I say. :) Honey, beeswax, and pollination of our growing plants - what's not to like?

Chris, LOL. It's not like I could give up! I did get stung once, but it had nothing to do with that mess. It was by a bee that was crawling on the rim of my shoe which I apparently squished somewhat.

I've heard the same thing about bees' aggressiveness, and it makes sense. A new hive is new territory. It's not home yet so they don't defend it. Once they establish themselves they get more defensive. It also has something to do with the type of honeybee. Some races are more docile by nature. The Italians are considered fairly docile. I think the trade-off is that they produce less than some of the more aggressive strains. Since I bought mine locally I had no choice. The bee folks do offer Russian queens, but only Italian packages.

Lynda said...

You are going to be so amazed at the increased production of your garden and orchards!! Having bees on the Homestead is a MUST! I love mine.

Mitch H said...

We use rubber washing up gloves to work with the bees, was a handy hint from our bee keeping guru.
After having an infected hive with brood foul which sadly had to be destroyed bees an all, hygiene & cross contamination of hives is a big thing with us.
So washing up gloves cheap & cheerful..
Having bees is great, pollenation is up on our top fruit & honey....mmmmm.

Melanie said...

Hooray for your new bees!

My new favorite find is the use of Nitrile exam gloves, the ones made for use in surgeries, etc. They are made to resist punctures and make it so I can feel what I'm doing. I wish I could recall who told me that, but I know someone told us at some point; we tired it, and liked it.

My bees are a bit feisty now, defending their hive as we get to know each other. The queen is laying, so we're all happy.

1st Man said...

YAY!!! I'm so excited to watch your progress as well. Just posted up our experience this weekend. It must have been "BEE WEEKEND" for lots of people, I'm seeing lots of blog posts about bees, ha. Your hive is so beautiful, I wish I was that artistic, ha.

We are calling our area the 'bee yard' as well, hope to get a couple more next year and two more the year after that. Hopefully by then we'll all be experts...or is that BEE experts? Ha.


OH, and I didn't get the gloves either but I did wear some rubber gloves we had on hand but I'm going to look into it as well.

Here's to happy, healthy bees!

Sandy Livesay said...


Your bee's are enjoying their new digs!! Oh boy, yes definitely get yourself a couple pair of gloves. If you have a Atwoods store near by, they have supplies for bee keeping (gloves).

I look forward to hearing more about your bee's and their hive in upcoming posts.

PioneerPreppy said...

I usually order a new pair of gloves each year when I put in my regular woodenware order with Mann lake. I prefer the leather ones but they do tend to get stiff after being coated in honey and propolis over the Summer.

So are you putting the whole package of bees into the entire hive right from the start? That seems like a lot of space for a new package to defend and a lot of real estate for them to start building the wrong way on at first.

I know with standard top bars they have a blocker board they move back as the hive grows. I figured you would have to do the same thing with this hive only vertical?

Fiona said...

I am so enjoying your bee tales...it is a huge help as we hope to have bees and are new to it all. Bees do like Ralph though and I call him the Bee whisperer.

Leigh said...

Lynda, our first year here I saw not one honeybee. The second summer I saw a few, but they really are not common in our neighborhood and my poor pollination has shown it. I'm only sorry my bees missed all the fruit trees blooming this year.

Mich, hello and welcome! Thank you so much for that. Sounds much more economical and accessible than regular bee gloves. It would make sense to keep a separate pair for each hive. I can color coordinate!

Melanie, I will definitely have to look for those. Being able to feel or not feel is imperative. So glad to hear your hive is doing well!

1st Man, LOL, you're too much.

Sandy, I'm not familiar with Atwoods, but there is a bee supply store in the area. I think, though, that I'm going to take up either Mich's or Melanie's suggestions.

PP, yes, the entire package went in. What I did was to follow the advice to slip a small piece of wood into the entrance to narrow it by about 2/3s. From the videos I'm watching and websites I'm reading, it seems that the bees start in the top box and work their way down. No one has recommended a blocker board so far, so I'll just keep reporting on what I experience.

Thank you for that about the gloves. I will have to take a look at Mann Lake.

Fiona, thanks! How nice to be married to a bee whisperer! I agree that the internet is an excellent place to get information and learn. I especially like the videos!

Ed said...

I agree with the person who commented that bees aren't as aggressive when rehoming a queen. When we went out to capture swarms, we usually just wore a veil to keep the bees out of our hair and eyes, no suits or gloves even. Although if I was trying to catch the queen cage while dumping bees on my hand, I probably would have put on a glove too.

When we were harvesting the honey in the spring and fall, we always wore full suits and gloves. Lots more aggression could be found then.

The Cranky said...

Fortunately, bees like our yard... don't know where they're hived but all sort are visiting us constantly; I especially love the big bumbles.
We don't spray here, or do the 'fawncy lawn' stuff; dandelions and clover abound, and that's just the way we like it. We're also planting for birds, bees, and butterflies. =)
I might not be able to keep bees, but I can certainly keep them happy!

Leah said...

Wow! I am very jealous! I wish we could have bees here but we have way too many wasps and I have heard they will take over the beehive sometimes. Which is a real bummer for us as we love honey! But that's awesome that they are all settled in and ready to go! Good luck!

Meredith said...

That's so exciting! It reminds me of when I did this a few years ago. I'm waiting a few years to get some more land cleared before starting back up with keeping bees, and I miss it. Congratulations!

Leigh said...

Ed, it's probably just as well, especially for new beekeepers. We don't need to be scared off during our first encounters!

Jacqueline, the world needs more people like you!

Leah, your comment about wasps got my curiosity going so I did a little research. The most informative website I could find was at Kiwimana. Offered several good ways to protect honeybees from wasps. I've got it bookmarked, just in case.

Meredith, so glad to hear you loved it. Here's hoping you won't have to wait long to get more. :)

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi! Bee gloves sounds like a must buy to me!! Sure glad I can buy my honey from someone else. Sounds scary to me. Nancy

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about your hiving success. Mine is yet to be determined.

Leigh said...

Nancy, you know what they say, it pays to be prepared. :)

Donna, so far so good but I go check on them about a zillion times a day to make sure everything still seems okay! Here's hoping you and I both have good bee success for many years to come.

Jake said...

Glad to hear you got the bees situated well! I hope they are able to get out and start seriously exploring before long.

Also interesting to hear the experiences of other folks on gloves and hiving packages. My first package I hived early on a cool morning and everything went smoothly, no veil needed. Last year I tried hiving toward dusk on a warm day with no veil and ended up getting stung five times. Even though they didn't have a hive to defend, they were definitely ornery! They weren't very cantankerous for the rest of the summer though, so I think they eventually forgave me.

On the gloves, I also have had good luck with the rubber wash-up gloves. But my current favorite is gardening gloves, sort of like these. They don't have long cuffs, but I usually wear a bee jacket with long sleeves and elastic cuffs, so it works out ok. The dexterity is pretty close to bare hands. My wife was a little dismayed at first that her nice gloves got covered with propolis, but she eventually forgave me, too. :-)

Unknown said...

This is all so heart-warming. A dream that's become real. Goodness, pass the tissues.

I've added a new addition to my dream list. Apart from visiting Tuscany i want to visit all my blog buddies. I'd need a big ticket for that one.

Bill said...

Great! Congrats! I installed two packages here yesterday. When I removed the queen cage in one of them I discovered that the queen was dead. Luckily we don't live far from Dadant and they were able to provide me another queen (the last one they had). I raced to get them installed before an approaching thunderstorm, which had them angrier than they'd otherwise be. Got it done without getting stung. :) I'm looking forward to following how things go with yours.

Erika keller said...

Yay! The bees are home! Good luck!

Karen@ onthebanksofsaltcreek.com said...

I am really jealous :-)

I want bees really badly but it will have to wait. Still learning so much about what we already have.

I buy raw local honey and go through at least a quart a month so some day I do plan on having some hives.

Great post!

Renee Nefe said...

I'm pretty sure that some neighbor not too far from us has hives as when our apple and cherry trees bloom they are usually very covered in bees. One year for Darly's birthday there were loads of bees. I mentioned it to her friends and one of them was terrified. sigh Luckily she just stayed away from the tree and all was well. I can sit for a long time just watching the bees.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I wouldn't be without my lovely soft leather bee gloves.
I bet you notoce a difference with your tree fruits this year now that you have your little friends ensconced.
Happy beekeeping and don't forget to tell the bees your news of births and deaths in the family/holding.

Unknown said...

Congrats! I just some beekeeping stuff at our local feed store, hives, books, etc. Never seen those before :)

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

BZZZZZ! Good Stuff! :-)

Leigh said...

Jake, thanks! I have to agree about all the interesting comments, including yours. You've given a second vote for both washing up gloves, also the nitrile gloves. I think these make so much more sense, since apparently bee gloves don't last too terrible long.

Lynda, what an amazing trip that would be!

Bill, how exciting, but how alarming to have a dead queen. That makes a good point for buying bees as locally as possible.

Erika, thanks!

Karen, honeybees have been on our wish list for about five years. :) Eventually things do get checked off!

Renee, that was very fortunate for those fruit trees! A lot of folks are afraid of bees, among other things. If one is allergic, I can definitely understand.

Gill, except our fruit trees had already bloomed by the time the bees arrived. :( So that means we'll have good fruit next year!

Nancy, that's a great item to carry at a feed store!

Cloud, LOL. Good to hear from you! I need to go check out what you've been up to lately.